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Miranda House

University of Delhi

the History

Editorial Board

Dr Bharati Jagannathan Faculty Advisors

Ms Sushmita Banerjee

Shreya Das ( IInd Year) Chief Editor

Ritika Gupta ( IInd Year) Creative Head

Ritiksha Sharma (IInd Year) Co-editors

Diksha Goyal (Ist Year)

History Department

Students Union

Miranda House
University of Delhi

The History Society


Editorial Note v

Rhetoric ,Politics and Culture

1. An Ethical Challenge to Indira Gandhis
Authoritarianism: Examining the Rhetoric of
Jayaprakash Narayan 2
Rabia Mehra
2. Rhetoric of Images : The Tank Man 9
Ritika Gupta
3. Popular Music, Rhetoric and Culture:
Western Music during the Vietnam War 16
Kondepudy Bharati
Folklore, Mythology and Popular Culture
4. Padmini: The Legend that was Or Perhaps Not 23
Krishna Shekhawat
5. Childrens Literature and Popular Culture:
Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes 28
Soumya Sahai
6. Hindu Goddesses and Divine Women: A Victim of Patriarchy? 34
Harini Shankar
7. Satyajit Rays Charulata: Reading the Rhetoric 38
Vanya Lochan
Language, Labels and History
8. Freed From Slavery, Chained By Labels 47
Kajri Raymahasay
9. A Literary History of Urdu Language 50
Zayana Nasir
Editorial Note
Bhabo! Bhabo! Bhaba practice koro!
(Think! Think! Practice thinking!)

This classic dialogue delivery by Ritwik Ghatak as Neelkantha Bagchi, in Gha-

taks own outstanding 1974 Bengali movie Jukti, Takko Ar Goppo (Logic, Debate
and Dialogue) has always been a personal favourite. However, little did I know
that one day it would encapsulate the very essence of an academic journal that I
would be able to initiate for the History department of Miranda House.

The idea behind introducing Muntakhab (a Persian term for Collection) the
History Society Magazine, is strongly rooted in the desire to provide a platform
to all the students, where they can freely verbalise their opinion, engage in strong
academic discourses and debates, transcending the boundaries of the discipline
per se and engaging in critical analysis, introspection and commentary over a
wide spectrum of subjects, ranging anywhere from politics to cinema, religion to
sports, books and theatre to travelogues.

This year, for our first edition of Muntakhab, we have received an outstanding
array of articles, engaging in a wide range of issues. However, the editorial team
has sought to stitch these articles under certain thematic assortments: Rhetoric,
Politics and Culture; Folklore, Mythology and Popular Culture and Language,
Labels and History.

While Rabia Mehra has sought to decode Jayaprakash Narayans stand against
Indira Gandhis regime, Ritika Gupta unleashes a whole new paradigm of inter-
preting images. Kondepudy Bharati then takes her readers on a different journey
of rebel music, while Krishna Shekhawat provokes the readers to solve the cross-
words of Padmavat, and Soumya Sahai probes a little deeper into the different
shades of innuendos camouflaged within childrens literature. Harini Shankar has
delved into a rather different kind of interpretation of Hindu Goddesses, lacing
it with strong gender discourses, while Vanya Lochan also unravels a whole
new understanding towards Satyajit Rays outstanding Bengali film, Charulata.
Kajri Raymahasay then shifts our gaze towards breaking the stereotypical

labels attached to slaves and the idea of slavery, while Zayana Nasirs history of
Urdu language, shall leave the readers with the odour remnants of fond distant
memories, enamouring one, with the beauty of the language itself.

As members of the editorial team, we feel extremely proud to present to all our
readers, the very first edition of Muntakhab. However, we would also earnestly
request our readers to send us their feedbacks, to write to us on anything that
compels them. We urge all the students to keep reading, keep writing and keep
rebelling, for remember, nothing can defeat the power of our ink. Nothing can
ever extinguish the power of young minds to question, to express, and to think,
for it is we, who will and who can bring a better, a more tolerant and a more
liberal society, tomorrow.
Practice thinking!

--Shreya Das (Chief Editor)

and the whole Editorial team


Rhetoric , Politics
and Culture
An Ethical Challenge to
Indira Gandhis Authoritarianism:
Examining the Rhetoric of Jayaprakash Narayan

Rabia Mehra

Jayaprakash Narayan or JP, as he was that went into the creation of the JP
popularly referred to, was one of the movement must be outlined.
foremost socialist leaders from the
pre-independence period. He is most The early years of the 1970s witnessed
renowned for his leadership of the dramatic changes in prime ministerial
Bihar Movement or what came to be style and behavior with Indira Gand-
known as the JP Movement in 1974- his drive towards centralization and
75, resulting in the electoral rout of the concentration of power in her
Indira Gandhi three years later. JPs own hands. Despite the very catchy
immense personal and ethical appeal Garibi Hatao (Eradicate Poverty)
amongst people stemmed from his slogan, this was the time when the
selfless service or what is sometimes country was in the midst of an un-
characterized as saintly tradition, el- precedented period of high inflation,
evating him to a plane occupied pre- very high unemployment rate and ris-
viously only by Mahatma Gandhi. ing inequality. An eminent economist
Nayantara Sahgal, Indira Gandhis pointed out that independent Indias
cousin and author of Indira Gandhi- economy was a mixed economy, par-
Tryst with Power remarked that JP taking features of both socialism and
seemed as a counter-leader, a prevail- capitalism, but had failed on both
ing moral influence at a time when counts. According to Ramchandra
many believed that the leadership cult Guha, the JP Movement in 1974 was
at Delhi had been carried too far. In impelled by its leaders frustrations at
this essay I have analysed JPs rhetoric the gap between expectations and re-
during the Bihar Movement and the ality and his impatient desire to trans-
period of the Emergency, by trying form the country before he left the
to understand the logical, ethical and earth. This explains the sudden turn
emotional appeal of his arguments. towards radical politics by a man,
At the outset, the historical context who had earlier disavowed politics
and the particular factors altogether. Like Mao in China, JP

turned to the students, to what he dents of Bihar asked him to lead their
called yuvashakti (youth power) to movement, JP agreed on two condi-
bring about the Total Revolution or tions: that it should be scrupulously
revolution in every aspect of social life non-violent and that it should not be
and organization. In January 1974, the restricted to Bihar. He emphasized
students in Gujarat led a movement that all the meetings, demonstrations,
called Nav Nirman(the Movement strikes, bandhs, civil disobedience
for Regeneration) demanding the dis- must be done in a peaceful and order-
missal of the corrupt state govern- ly manner as disorder and violence
ment, compelling the chief minister to do not go with democracy. Violence,
resign. The events in Gujarat inspired which could in any case be crushed,
students in Bihar to launch a struggle would, JP said, give the Prime Minister
against misgovernance in their own an excuse to launch her dictatorship.
state. They asked Jayaprakash Narayan Thus, he took pains to explain that
to step in and lead the movement. violence could be counter-productive.
JP asked students to boycott classes,
to leave their studies for a year and Through his Diary, one can also un-
work at raising the consciousness of derstand his Gandhian-humanist vi-
the people. By the end of 1974, the sion of a good society and the kind of
Bihar Movement was truly poised to total revolution that would be neces-
become a national movement with sary to bring it into existence. What
support pouring in from all over the Sampoorna Kranti or total revolution
country. When the Emergency was meant in essence was an all-compre-
imposed in June 1975 on the grounds hensive social revolution. JP empha-
of threat of internal disturbances, JP sized that the struggle was not to be
was the first leader to be detained and confined to the political field alone; it
imprisoned. In his Prison Diary writ- will have to be waged on many fronts,
ten during solitary detention in Chan- that is, social, economic, educational,
digarh, he put his case and outlined his cultural and even ecological. One of
goals in the simplest terms. the unstated implications of such a
satyagraha (non-violent resistance) ,
An insight into the workings of JPs he pointed out would be self-change,
mind and the logic of his arguments that is, those wanting a change must
can be discerned from his Prison Di- also change themselves before launch-
ary where JP is attempting an exercise ing any kind of action. JP suggested
of self-analysis as well as an analysis an alternate path to development with
of why things went wrong. According a strong moral-spiritual framework.
to Nayantara Sahgal, three streams, In a series of articles and speeches in
namely British Liberalism, Marxism Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, he declared
and Gandhism converged to evolve that the people must not only fight
his personal philosophy. When the stu- corruption but also hunger, unemplo-

-yment, inflation, social and economic ernment) set up in Bihar were for the
injustices of many kinds like the caste most part constructive, undertaking
system and the futile system of educa- programmes like regulating the public
tion which in the first place left most distribution system, checking corrup-
of the children uneducated and in the tion at the lower levels of administra-
second place miseducated the rest. He tion, implementing the land reform
stressed that the aim of economic de- laws, etc. JP emphasized that he was
velopment should be to enhance the not condoning student violence but
well-being of all people and hence in- that the government must understand
dustrial development should take the the root cause of student unrest, that
line of medium industry, small indus- is, the rotten education system, unem-
try and rural industrial development. ployment and the wrongheaded poli-
cies of socio-economic development.
JP emphasized that a revolutionary He remarked that whatever violence
change of the political system was an had taken place in Bihar was before
integral and inescapable part of the his association with the movement
programme of total revolution. He after which, the students had behaved
had limited faith in parliamentary peacefully, sometimes even in the face
democracy which according to him of extreme provocation. Thus, after
ruled by passive consent rather than stating the aforementioned arguments,
by active participation and inevitably JP opined that there was no need to
lead to centralization of power, bu- impose a state of emergency on the
reaucratization of all initiatives, party entire country, suspend fundamental
politics, demagoguery, etc. Instead, he rights and curb the freedom of the
advocated decentralization and em- press, the very life breath of democ-
powerment of the community, not racy. It is only because Mrs. Gandhi
the individual. He believed that in a felt a threat to her personal power and
democratic set-up, the people should position that she resorted to such a
not rely wholly and solely on elections move. JP repeatedly stated that he was
to change their plight. Further, those willing to seek the path of coopera-
elected to positions of power cannot tion with the government, provided
be outside the scope of law and peo- the latter is responsive to the peoples
ple should be continuously involved in will and is committed to their welfare.
keeping a watch on their representa-
tives and demanding good and honest JPs immense ethical appeal came
performance from them. from his reputation as a leader whose
human qualities and moral stature
JP argued that contrary to what Mrs. were held in high regard. JP was one
Gandhi was proclaiming, there was such leader who, as Ramachandra
no plan to paralyse the government. Guha remarked in his book, India Af-
The Janata Sarkars (Peoples Gov- -ter Gandhi, was regarded as someone

with unquestioned probity, a saint new country, a new Bihar. JP com-
who had been called upon to save pol- pared himself to Gandhi implicitly
itics from the politicians. and more explicitly, the Congress re-
gime to the colonial state. While he
JPs political career began in the 1930s was in jail, the Times of London car-
when he joined the Congress Party ried a full page advertisement on 15th
and his intellectual calibre, integrity August 1975, taken out by the Free JP
and ardent commitment to freedom Campaign which stated, Today is In-
endeared him to Nehru. The Salt dias Independence, Dont let the light
March in the early 1930s impressed go out of Indias democracy. On the
him with the discovery that, while page carried printed photographs of
the ideologues propounded ideol- Mahatma Gandhi and JP and a testa-
ogy, Gandhi, with neither ideology ment to JPs character from the Ma-
nor manifesto, took the people with hatma himself. W.H. Morris, an emi-
him. After independence, JPs moral nent political scientist and one among
stature grew since he was one of the those who had paid for the ad called
rare senior Congress leaders who had JP, an influential exemplar of the
declined political office. In numerous saintly idiom in Indian politics,
speeches, he remarked, My interest is was of the opinion of Mrs. Gandhis
not in the capture of power, but in the own disillusioned Joint Secretary B.N.
control of power by the people. Tandon, the P.M.s ego, pride and
corruption did not have the ability to
Ajit Bhattacharjea, who accompa- stand up to JPs moral roar.
nied JP on several tours has written
in his diary, that crowds waited for JPs rhetoric raised various types of
hours to see JP and he often spoke emotions. His Prison Diary is a record
for hours, lecturing them on his po- of the manner in which a sensitive
litical and social goals. The overall mind reacted from day to day, to the
response seemed to convince JP that happenings in the world and begins
Lokniti (peoples power) would soon with a profoundly moving confession,
purify Rajniti or state power. Address- My world lies in shambles all around
ing the students in Bihar, he warned me. He accused the Prime Minister
that the road ahead would be a rocky time and again of strangling democ-
one and that they would have to make racy to death by clamping down her
sacrifices but he was convinced that in dictatorial regime and expressed his
the end, the struggle would be worth anguish in these words. Every nail
it: Gandhiji spoke of Swaraj (free- driven deeper into the coffin of Indi-
dom) in one year. I speak of real peo- an democracy is like a nail driven into
ples government in one year. In one my heart. It is this tightening grip of
year, the right form of education will death on our democracy that makes
emerge. Give me one year to build a my heart weep. JP mocked Indira

Gandhis interviews during the Emer- noble father, had laid down. There
gency, mostly to foreign correspon- is nothing but strife and suffering
dents, for posing to be self-righteous along the path that you have taken
and the countrys savior. The new
spirit of discipline and morale that JP was not pessimistic about the fu-
she attributed to the emergency was ture. He remarked in his Diary that
according to JP, born out of fear, for though the betrayal of the intel-
a healthy nation can be built only in lectuals had started and the rats
a climate of freedom. He called Mrs. had begun to leave the ship, he had
Gandhi the frightened lady of New unshakable faith in the people and
Delhi, who was terrified out of her the countrys youth. JP believed that
wits by the gathering public opinion people who had fought British impe-
against her. He compared the claims rialism and humbled it, cannot accept
of Mrs. Gandhi and her supporters indefinitely the shame of totalitarian-
about saving democracy through the ism. He advised Indira Gandhi not
Emergency to the Americans trying to to identify herself with the nation as
save the South Vietnamese by de- while she was not immortal, India is.
stroying them.

When the CPI (Communist Party of Before the imposition of the Emer-
India) accused him of being anti-na- gency, JP undertook a march to Delhi,
tional, JP responded, It might sound which was one of the largest proces-
vain, but the day JP becomes a traitor, sions ever seen, drawing an estimated
there would be no patriot left. In a 7,50,000 participants from all over In-
letter to his old friend, Sheikh Abdul- dia. He spoke in an emotion-charged
lah who became the Chief Minister voice comparing the Delhi march to
of Jammu and Kashmir, he referred Gandhijis historic Salt March. When
to himself as being portrayed the vil- he recited Ramdhari Singh Dinkars
lain of the piece, the arch-conspirator, evocative poem, Sinhasan Khali Karo
culprit number one and added that a Ki Janta Aati Hai (Vacate the throne,
return to true normalcy could only be the people are coming), composed
brought about with his cooperation. when India became a republic on 26th
January, 1950, he received a thunder-
In an earnest appeal to Indira Gand- ous applause.
hi, he wrote, I am an old man. My
lifes work is done...I have given all While analyzing social movements, ac-
my life, after finishing education, cording to T.K. Oommen, one must
to the country and asked for noth- not only look at the ideological vision
ing in returnPlease do not destroy of the top leadership but also view
the foundations that the Fathers of movements from below to discern
the Nation, including your own the inside story or the micro-dimen

-sion. This gives a picture of the actu- purged of the influence of power and
al operation and consequences at the money. Yet, he emphasized, there
grass roots level which may be differ- is no other way of ascertaining the
ent from the formal picture. In the general opinion of the people in a na-
case of the JP Movement, B.K. Patil, tion-state, except through free and fair
a former ICS Officer who at JPs in- elections. A month after the Emer-
vitation, had travelled through Bihar gency, the sociologist Joe Elder was
and talked to a wide cross-section of sent on a fact-finding mission to India.
people, offered a detailed critique of His account suggests that the Emer-
the movement. In a long letter to JP gency was a script jointly authored by
dated 4th October 1974, he conced- JP and Mrs. Gandhi. Both had shown
ed that there can be no doubt about little faith in representative institutions
the tremendous popular enthusiasm in a modern democracy. According to
generated by the movement. He saw him, JP had erred in launching a mass
unprecedented crowds attending movement without a cadre of disci-
your meetings in pin-drop silence. plined, non-violent volunteers. His
However, when they were on their ideas had struck many as nave, un-
own, these crowds were less disci- tested or unconvincing.
plined, as in the attacks on the State
Assembly and the forcible prevention These criticisms notwithstanding,
of the Bihar governor from delive- the Bihar struggle acquired an all-In-
-ring his speech. Another Gand- dia importance and the countrys
hian associate of JP wrote to him that fate seemed to be bound up with its
he worried that the common man suc--cess and failure. The Hindustan
has yet to be educated in the ways Times commented editorially that
and values of the movement, whose Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan has be-
appeal to him continues to be more come a symbol whose true relevance
negative than constructive. extends far beyond Bihar. On 12th
November 1975, JP was released on
There were many Indians, not neces- parole due to his deteriorating health,
sarily members of Congress who were fearing the consequences if he were
alarmed that the leadership of the to die in jail. When he arrived at
government, atleast at the local level, Patna on 20th July 1976, thousands
which was passing into the hands of thronged to see him and shouted
the extremist rightwing party, the Jana Jayaprakash Zindabad (Long live
Sangh. Patil argued that by demanding Jayaprakash), despite threats of be-
the dismissal of a duly elected gov- ing arrested. Though crippled by
ernment, the Bihar agitation is both his kidney failure, JP poured out the
unconstitutional and undemocratic. last remnants of his career to inspire
True, the electoral process had to be the crushing defeat of Indira Gandhis
reformed, made more transparent and Congress Party in the 1977 elections.

However, the Janata Ministers who Kapoor, Coomi, 2015, The Emergency: A
took office, received his blessings but Personal History, Delhi: Penguin.
proceeded to ignore his programme.
Narayan, Jayprakash, 1975, Prison Diary,
To conclude, JP was a politician as Bombay: Popular Prakashan Private Lim-
well as a visionary. His relevance as a ited.
mass leader and a clear political think-
er lies in his emphasis on grassroots Oommen, T.K., 2012, Sociological Issues
awareness and empowerment. It can in the Analysis of Social Movements in In-
be argued that his comprehensive un- dia, in Studies in Indian Sociology , Vol. 6,
derstanding of the Indian situation Delhi: Sage.
and firm resolve to work towards his
goals did not make his rhetoric mean- Sahgal, Nayantara, 2012, Indira Gandhi
ingless, although his efforts did not Tryst with Power, Delhi: Penguin.
achieve the intended results. Today,
many political parties rush forward https://www.mainstreamweekly.net/arti-
to claim his legacy. However, until a cle2675.html
sustained, non-violent popular move-
ment is organized to monitor, expose, h t t p s : / / w w w. t h e q u i n t . c o m / p o l i -
agitate against and counter misrule tics/2016/10/08/jayaprakash-narayan-ja-
and corruption at all levels, the core nata-party-emergency-jp-death-anniver-
of his message will remain unheard, as sary
Ajit Bhattacharjea has aptly remarked.
References plained/in-fact-why-jayaprakash-narayan-
Guha, Ramachandra, 2007, India After gency/
Gandhi: The History of the Worlds Larg-
est Democracy , Delhi: Harper Collins.

Rhetoric of Images:
The Tank Man

Ritika Gupta
The word image is derived from tation of historic events, activate strong
imitari which means imitation. Taking emotional response and are reproduced
into consideration its ancient etymolo- across media, genre, etc. These imag-
gy it is difficult to conceive image as a es generally embody principles such
conveyor of true meaning, when it is as egalitarianism, nationalism and civic
itself a direct analogical representation republicanism. They often reflect pub-
of something else. But the significance lic attitudes of civic piety, irony, nostal-
of image cannot be denied, for it is lan- gia and cynicism.
guage in itself. The symbolic message
that an image yields is often discontin- Public can be denoted as a bulk of
uous. Unlike language, the reading of strangers, who acquire self-awareness
images may vary with individuals. It de- and historical agency, when they see
pends on the different kinds of knowl- themselves in collective representa-
edgepractical, national, cultural or tions. Visual image provide them with
aestheticinvested in that image .The a sense of shared experience that an-
meaning is derived from what Barthes chors impersonal nature of discourse
termed as lexicons, which is a body to motivational social life. Ideological
of knowledge within viewers. Thus implication of specific images are es-
meanings are constructed not only sential but not sufficient for under-
by the creators, but also the viewers, standing how their public address fulfil
whose lexicons coincide with the sign diverse functions of constructing pub-
of the image. Rhetoric of image is all lic identity, cohabitating individualism
the visual element in an image, that can and collectivism and motivating action
be employed as signifier. Not all conno- or inaction. If a specific embodiment
tations in an image are signifiers; some becomes dominant, then the public
purely denote elements that exist with- ceases to exist as it is conditioned by
in the frame. the ideas of a specific social group.
Similarly, if representation is increas-
There are several forms of images, for ingly impersonal, the public ceases to
instance, photographs. Photographs exist as it has little motivational basis.
become iconic when they are represen- For example, the US marines hoisting

the flag at Iwo Jima, are all white, this those who were silenced. The photo-
could have been interpreted as only graph seems to capture the essence of
they being fit for war. But that im- the event, when Tiananmen Square
age was increasingly used to promote whose large structures speak of in-
equality. This led to a major rhetor- significance of individual in front of
ical problem. Although symbolism the might of the state, witnessed a
of equality in an image is necessary humungous mass of Chinese people
for social unity, it gains motivational protesting against their government.
powers only when there is specific
embodiment which again limits the The objects in the foreground the
purpose. An image becomes iconic, tanks and the man and their relative
when albeit having specific embodi- sizes reflect the nobility and courage
ment as in case of Flag hoisting at of little man resisting a seemingly
Iwo Jima persuades public of its insurmountable opposition. The fea-
egalitarianism and reaches out to tures of man are practically indistin-
masses. guishable, especially in the shadow of
the war machine he stares down. The
background offers minute distraction
from these contrasting elements: only
pavements and shadows are seen.
There are no people or no sky to dis-
tract from the central conflict.

In order to go further into analysis,

it is necessary to understand the con-
text in which the events of 1989 took
The picture I have decided to analyse place. In the spring of 1989, follow-
is the iconic Tank Man image, de- ing a decade of post-Mao economic
picting an unidentified man standing and social reforms, the world wit-
before a line of tanks in Chinas Ti- nessed the spectacle of mass demon-
ananmen Square in 1989. This image strations in Beijings enormous Tian-
became a symbol of defiance and anmen Square. Students started the
courage in the face of danger. The protest. They sought reforms not
man himself was never identified, revolution, as children of elite. The
nor was his fate following the event. protests gradually spread to middle
This lone defiance became an enigma classes, peasants and working classes.
and world press wanted a name for What started as a students uprising
this hero. It cannot be denied that it metamorphosed into workers upris-
was the mystery that gave Tank Man ing. This placed the government on
its enduring power. He didnt need a nervous footing, for it had earlier
a name, he became the voice of all used them as the potential instrume-

nts to come to power. tury. In recognition, Life Magazine
later immortalized the image of Tank
In the midst of chaos, a lone man, Man as one of the 100 photos that
holding a plastic shopping bag in each changed the world.
hand, stepped directly in front of an
approaching column of armoured In contrast to this, the situation in-
tanks. The lead tank worked to cir- side China was entirely different. The
cumvent the man, but at each stage challenge of powerful image for an
was blocked as the protestor repeated- authoritarian state was enormous:
ly repositioned himself to impede its how to stop one person to become an
forward progress. Once the column example for others. Hence, the image
of tanks surrendered its attempts to was banned in China. It was shown
outmanoeuvre the pedestrian, the only once in Chinese television brand-
man climbed atop the nearest tank ed as an example of army restraint.
and engaged in a conversation with However, it was quickly withdrawn
the driver who emerged from with- and never shown again. The focus was
in. Shortly thereafter, the protestor to end any sort of discussion of pro-
was whisked away by two anonymous test by controlling media and publish-
bystanders. Although numerous me- ing, which was done quite effectively.
dia sources have speculated about The communist government was least
the young mans identity, none have willing to compromise regarding the
been able to conrm who he was or matter.
what happened to him following the
incident.He could have been a de- In China the internet users are under
termined courageous person or just constant surveillance due to the pres-
an ordinary one, disgusted of what ence of the internet police. For more
he had seen in the last few days. He sophisticated control, China ironically
emerged as a sacrificial figure, who be- relied on western technology. No im-
came the symbol for resistance against ages of the Tank Man appear on the
a powerful regime. internet searches in China. Almost all
the western IT giants including Goo-
Sometimes known as the Unknown gle, Yahoo, Cisco and Microsoft in or-
Rebel, the young protestor is most der to enter lucrative Chinese market
commonly referred to as Tank Man. have tailored their information system
A photograph of Tank Man confront- to fit the political censorship needs
ing the hulking machines appeared of the Chinese government. Worse
on the front page of the New York still, Google and Yahoo have signed
Times the next day, and on the cov- a self-censorship pledge. These com-
er of Time magazine shortly thereaf- panies are often alleged that they are
ter, and emerged as one of the most providing Chinese companies with
iconic photographs of the 20th cen- technologies to identify people and

messages that they do not like. strations by Chinese underclass, main-
ly protesting against land acquisition.
To quell the spirit of the Tank Man,
the path taken was open embrace of Perhaps the most salient aspect of the
capitalism, tough political repression image is that it leads to many ques-
and strict censorship of media. There tions. Why does he stand up to the
is no doubt that the leadership feared tanks despite certain death? What is
relaxing control, particularly over the his fate? What does he hope to achieve
media and discussions of events like simply by standing? There is some
1989 and a myriad of others, because amount of vagueness to the picture
it feared that once the discussions which makes it so intriguing, practical-
begin, protests like those demonstra- ly coercing you to try and unravel the
tions in 1989 would be difficult to events which led to that one moment.
stop. And in this, they may be right. No faces are seen nor emotions nor
But there is another theory that states intentions. But the man is as station-
if even a modicum of discussion is ary as any person or organisation will
allowed to go in an orderly fashion, ever be. Despite inherent ambiguity
it would serve as a pressure-release it is hard to ignore the magnitude of
valve, whereas if there is no discus- what the Tank Man is doing. The will-
sion, at some point the pressure will ingness to stand for what he believed,
build up. What the Communist Party no matter who stands opposite, is why
had relied on to prevent the pressure the image is now iconic.
from building up, was to allow people
to exercise their ambitions and urges The photo as commonly cropped and
to be able to advance themselves and available to us, largely in still rather
to have lives on the economic side of than video form, deleting all traces
the ledger. of mass involvement, contains no
sounds, no dialogue between the pro-
This social contract, has worked quite testor and the tank driver that might
well for the Communist Party, and for allow the viewer to see the driver as
the elites, and now the new middle a human making a moral or political
class of China. But what about the or- decision of his own, no voices of the
dinary men and womenthose work- million-odd others who gathered in
ing in factories and providing labour. the square, that might frame effective
Many of them lost their jobs in new protest as a function of the masses
competitive market economy. With rather than the individual.
strict residency laws, the government
was able to restrict wealth into cities. For the Tank Man photograph to re
Owing to widened gap between rich tain its apparent semiotic certainty, it
and poor, in recent years there has needs to be understood not merely as
been increasing numbers of demon- a representation of a reied state but

of a specically communist state. absence in the contemporary United
The Washington Posts Tank Man States. Although the photograph of
feature declared, Here is the vaunted Tank Man quickly came to stand in
evil of communism in living color, for the 1989 protest movement, dom-
and Time magazines June19 1989 inating newspaper front pages, mag-
cover featured the Tank Man photo azine covers, and television airwaves,
positioned over a bold caption that the image was never solely about the
read, Revolt against Communism. event itself. At the same time, they
Indeed, through the textual commen- also reect changing global hierarchies
tary, communism emerges as a code in which the United States no longer
for totalitarianism, understood in this automatically occupies a position
case as synonymous with the Chinese of power relative to China. As such,
state. re-appropriations of iconic photo-
graphs have the potential to mobilize
The Tank Man image reminded the collective memory and political imagi-
viewer not only about the inherent nations to new ends.
nature of communism, but also that
the ideal form of statesociety rela- For this purpose, I would examine two
tions is one in which the individual of these appropriations. The rst one
citizen is the source of legitimacy and is a political cartoon published on the
the locus of power. On June 6 1989, occasion of high-level meetings be-
for example, the New York Times tween members of the Obama admin-
centred the Tank Man photograph istration and Chinese ofcials during
on its front page, the title of the ac- high-prole visits to China. At rst
companying article asserting, Crack- glance, it offers commentary on the
down in Beijing; One Man Can Make global repositioning of China and the
a Difference, and beginning with United States that is clearly intended
the deceptively simple words, It to mock the United States for sur-
all started with a man in a white shirt. rendering to Chinese state power and
It acted as a guide for the desires of sacrising its historical advocacy of
the private citizen who could aspire to
what the West had already achieved

Over time the iconic Tank Man

image is modied and repurposed
to new political ends. In 21st centu-
ry, re-appropriated Tank Man images
speak less about the absence of politi-
cal liberalism and democracy in China,
that were encapsulated in the original human rights. In contrast to this, the
Tank Man image and more about their second one is a political poster, ad-

dressing the domestic context of Oc- or ideologically in the form of polit-
cupy Wall Street movement. ical ideas of democracy or freedom
of speech is enough to confront the
The above appropriation is made by columns of tank. While the original
political cartoonist Dave Brown. The Tank Man image had evoked the fear
context of the cartoon was US pres- of Chinese state as communist, this
ident Barack Obamas visit to China. image had evoked new kind of fear
The image makes a direct reference in which Chinas successful appropri-
to a reduction of the US power in ation of capitalism had not only ren-
the face of Chinese might. In this, dered the US irrelevant but also un-
cartoon, published during President dermined the so-called relationship
Barack Obamas rst visit to China in between democracy and capitalism.
2009, Brown replaced the gure of the
protestor with that of Obama stand-
ing in front of a column of Chinese
tanks and the familiar plastic shopping
bags with a bucket of soapy water and
a dripping wet squeegee. Water pud-
dles at the heros feet. His dispro-
portionately wide grin appears to be
an attempt to be ingratiating rather
than of amusement. Here Obama fac-
es the tanks clad in baggy pants and
with his knees bent, apparently sig- The second image uses Tank Man im-
nalling submission to state power. Al- agery to reflect the political vision of
though he offers China his windshield Occupy movement. In 2011, Zuccotti
cleaning services, the tanks have no Park Press commissioned Oakland,
windshields that require his expertise. CA artist R. Black to design a poster
The United States in this image seems representing an attack that featured
reduced to low-paying service jobs be- Wall Street, the ve boroughs of New
fore the might of the Chinese govern- York, and Foley Square. This Occupy
ment. Thus, it appears to echo critics poster repurposes the image of the
of Obamas visit who argued that the Lone Rebel to comment upon prac-
presidents trip demonstrated Chinas tices of democracy and freedom of
ability to push back and hold rm speech in the United States, although
against American demands. differing by also suggesting that dem-
ocratic participation is not limited to
Rather than reaffirming the original individualistic heroism.
message of The Tank Man, the im-
age seems to question whether what As in the original photo, Tank Man
the US has to offer either materially appears standing in front of tanks in

the center of the poster, wearing the only a part of the story. However, it
same black pants and white shirt and remains iconic only outside China.
carrying plastic bags. Despite these The Tiananmen Square incident is no-
similarities, several major differences table for its absence from media with-
recongure the layout and meaning of in China.
the original image. First, this new Tank
Man confronts a horizontal rather References
than vertical row of three tanks. Sec- Barthes, Ronald ,1980,`Rhetoric of the
ond, the Tank Man gure is no longer Image, in Classic Essays on Photography,
alone, as directly behind him stand ed., Alan Trachtenberg, pp. 269285, New
countless other identical Tank Men, Haven, CT: Leetes Island Books.
joining his effort to halt the tanks
collectively in their forward march. Hariman, Robert , 2003, Public Identi-
In contrast to the original structural ty and Collective Memory in U.S. Iconic
simplicity and pale shades of the 1989 Photography: The Image of Accidental
photo, the Occupy Tank Man poster is Napalm, https://sites.uni.edu/fabos/
replete with text and bold color. The seminar/readings/Harriman2.pdf
gure of Tank Man is no longer the
only focal point. Hariman, Robert and John Louis Lucaites,
2007, No Caption Needed: Iconic Photo-
While both forms of the image graphs, Public Culture, and Liberal De-
the original Tank Man photo and its mocracy, Chicago: University of Chicago
contemporary appropriations fa- Press.
cilitate the self-construction of the
West, what makes the images appro- Hubbert, Jennifer, 2014,Appropriating
priation compelling, even as the orig- iconicity, Visual Anthropology Review,
inal remains an important referential Vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 114126.
structure, is that their meetings with
iconicity tend toward questioning and Iyer, Pico, 1998, The Unknown Rebel,
critique rather than assurance and Time, April 13. http:// www.time.com/
reproduction.The Tank Man has time/magazine/article/0,9171
come to symbolize much of the rhet-
oric of citizens standing up to a brutal Frontline: The Tank Man 2006 PBS.org.
government, although it symbolizes http://video.pbs.org/video/1146923141

Popular Music, Rhetoric and Culture:
Western Music during the Vietnam War

Kondepudy Bharati

Music has always transcended the young. The Vietnam War created new
boundaries of class, race and gender. It and young antagonists, defining their
demonstrates the power simple melo- emotions of anger, concern and empa-
dies hold in fueling a mass movement thy. These emotions of anger ,concern
and uniting people for a common and empathy. These emotions found an
cause. In the past, music emerged as outlet in literature, poetry, prose and
an effective form of protest during the most importantly, in music. The music
Vietnam War. In this paper I am ana- produced during the Vietnam War was
lysing the music produced during the very different from that of the Second
1960s and 1970s to detail the multiple World War. Normal patriotic songs
perspectives on both, the youth and the such as that of Staff Sergeant Barry
hippie culture which came up during Sadlers Ballad of the Green Berets
this time. in 1969 and Merle Haggards Okie
from Muskogee in 1969 represented
According to George Lipsitz, during one end of the spectrum. But, a vast
1960s and 70s the youth in America majority of the songs produced during
emerged as a distinct political and cul- the Vietnam War fell into the category
tural force. Further, he opines that the of anti-war or anti-establishment rather
youth involvement in politics has been than pro-government. Hence, popular
blown out of proportions. While young music can be seen as an interesting and
college students did contribute signifi- relevant medium of studying historical
cantly towards the popular culture of and cultural change.
the 60s, their power mainly came from
their sheer numbers and purchasing The American involvement in Vietnam
power. In fact, sociological studies sug- stemmed from the deep anti-commu-
gest that there were no major ideologi- nist sentiment against Viet Dam and
cal shifts from the previous generation his regime. In the words of John F.
(Lipsitz 1994). Kennedy, the US involvement in Viet-
nam was a proving ground for De-
Despite this, social movements played mocracy. Under Kennedys regime,
the defining role in what it meant to be there was a massive increase in military

were 550,000 combat troops in Viet- central to the experience and con-
nam and rising casualties with no end sciousness of many young people.
in sight. The anti-war movement and William Chafe identifies music as the
anti-war music ran parallel to the in- most important sacrament for the
creasingly large numbers of young young in the sixties, as the centre of
men joining the army (Lipsitz 1994). a lifestyle that testified powerfully to
the fragmentation taking place within
The soldiers drafted to fight in Viet- the society. The popular music per-
nam were born during the massive fectly captured the complex realities
baby boom that began in 1946. De- of the 60s (Lipsitz 1994).
fined by landmark political events like
the civil rights movement, the Viet- Rock and roll, firmly establishing
nam War, multiple riots and devas- its hold in the 1950s, and termed as
tating assassinations, this decade also noise by adults, attracted the youth
witnessed the tremendous increase in drones towards the new and exot-
in popularity of the Beatles and the ic music. Along with rampant sexual
Rolling Stones, of Janis Joplin and experimentation and the ongoing civil
Jimi Hendrix, and of Bob Dylan and rights movement, rock and roll cre-
Aretha Franklin. However, music did ated a youth culture that shared the
not witness any one distinct sixties ex- black writer James Baldwins insight:
perience but emerged from a plurality The American equation of success
of experiences, all riddled with contra- with the big times reveals an awful
dictions (Lipsitz 1994). The 60s also disrespect for human life and human
witnessed the emergence of folk-rock achievement (Baldwin 1961).
and the popularity of psychedelic acid The youth counterculture created
rock. spaces that were anti-establishment.
They questioned existing ideals to or-
Additionally, rampant commercialism ganise social life. On the other hand,
gripped the music industry. It expand- the civil rights movement and the
ed its scope and reach via new modes anti-war activists together formed a
of technology, thus cultivating a new more radical form of politics. This
crop of enthusiastic consumers, will- was largely the social, political and
ing to spend money. However, music economic environment in America,
also became an important medium to where protest music emerged as an
express and engage in dialogue with important genre. Music gave physical
respect to the prevailing cultural val- form to the angst, empathy, melan-
ues. The two key factors important choly and frustration felt by people
in the growth of music industry were with regards to the political and social
demography and the FM technology. atmosphere around them(Candaele n.d.).

It is an undeniable fact that music was Anti-war music began with simple

melodies of folk music and progressed Bob Dylans music thrived in the
towards a more aggressive rock and Greenwich folk music scene, which
roll style. In the early 1960s Bob saw the revival of American folk
Dylan opened up this cultural space music from the 1940s to mid 1960s.
and became one of the first artistes There were many other artistes in the
to oppose the Vietnam War through Greenwich scene when it came to
his music. Bob Dylan wrote, Blowin anti-establishment songs. Phil Ochs
in the wind and Masters of war in wrote a jukebox full of anti-war songs,
1962. These songs were based on sim- including I Aint Marchin Anymore
ple acoustic arrangements and clear and the witty Draft Dodger Rag
impactful lyrics. The simplicity of the (Candaele n.d.). As the Cold War pro-
songs was crucial as simpler melodies gressed, the harsh realities of loss,
were easier to transmit to a wide both in the US and Vietnam, were
audience. It thus gained popularity in expressed and heightened by anti-war
the genre of protest music. songs. These songs brought people
together in their dissent and anguish.
Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can really see the sky? But, the music industrys concern re-
Yes, how many ears must one man have garding the song chart position each
Before he can hear people cry? week, coupled with the fear of up-
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he setting top-level music executives,
knows investors and producers, meant that
That too many people have died? radical anti-war sentiments and state-
The answer my friend is organisation in the ments rarely made it in popular music.
wind An artist with enough clout or record
The answer is blowin in the wind. sales could occasionally get out a song
Blowin in the wind with a political or social message. For
example, Credence Clearwater Reviv-
In 1963 Bob Dylan released another als Fortunate Son, a caustic attack
song, with god on our side, which on militarism and the class- and race-
laid emphasis on the notion of god based unfairness of the draft, was re-
playing favourites with countries at leased and sold well. Fortunate Son,
war, seen as both crude and foolish. was an uncompromising two-minute-
His songs were not exclusively about and-twenty-one-second manifesto
Vietnam, but focused more on the about how those with connections
true meaning of patriotism and free- and money avoided the draft while the
dom. His views were in opposition to poor and working class had to go to
Eisenhower, who called for Military war. Fogerty understood the emerging
Industrial complex, and an existential anger that this disparity created: In
angst caused by the prospects of nu- 1968, the majority of the country
clear annihilation. thought morale was great among the

troops. . . . but to some of us who our and virtues of the United States.
were watching closely, we just knew Jimi Hendrix played the crucial role of
we were headed for trouble (Can- pushing the cruel reality of the Viet-
daele n.d.). nam War into the publics faces and
The highest point in the protest genre
As the war waged on in Vietnam, the
was achieved on the stage of the
temper and anguish expressed in the
Woodstock concert. On 18th August
anti-war songs became more pro-
1969, Jimi Hendrix played his version
nounced in their opposition. Another
of the Star Spangles Banner. His ren-
iconic performance on the Wood-
dition of the American national an-
stock stage was that of Country Joe
them rendered the audience speech-
McDonald. He perhaps delivered the
less, as he imitated the cacophony of
best-remembered anti-war song of the
war using his electric guitar. His per-
time. A darkly satirical critique of the
formance marked a decade of protest
war, I-Feel-Like-Im-Fixin-to--Die
music, aiming at Americas military
Rag held importance because Coun-
interest. His blistering and satire-laced
try Joe had earned military stripes in
version of the anthem displayed the
the Navy, representing frustration and
changes and contradictions within the
dissent from within the army veterans
anti-war music and movements of the
with regards to the War.
1960s and beyond.
Come on mothers throughout the land,
Unlike folk music, late-sixties anti-war Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
music did not focus on solidarity and Come on fathers, dont hesitate,
shared risk-taking. Hendrix was not Send your sons off before its too late.
a guitar-strumming folk artist lead- Be the first one on your block
ing a social movement. He, and his To have your boy come home in a box.
soundloud, technologically sophis- (Mcdonald 1967)
ticated and stunning in its virtuosity, The song was a savage swipe at the
avant-garde in its musical language hypocrisy of American values. It rep-
was by 1969 a very big business. As resented a distinct shift from Bob
venues grew larger, the rock perform- Dylans rueful and elusive question of
ernow designated a starwas how many would have to die, to a
increasingly separated from the au- more angry response.
dience. The song though impactful,
could not be reproduced by the mass- The increasing anger within the an-
es. Hendrixs performance managed ti-war movement peaked during the
to reach millions. The song invento- presidency of Richard Nixon elected
ried not just the progress of anti-war in 1968. Nixons Vietnam policy fur-
music but also the anti of the era ther divided the nation. While Nixon
itself. Hendrixs parody of The Star did decrease the number of troops
Spangled banner, criticised the hon-

in Vietnam, he also ordered secret ranks of rock and roll.
bombings of North Vietnamese sup-
ply routes that ran through neutral Anti-war songs were not the best sell-
Cambodia (Candaele n.d.). In April ers of that time. In fact the only song
1970, Nixon decided to send troops to reach anthem-like influence in an-
into Cambodia, leading to campuses ti-war circlesbut in no way as influ-
across the country erupting in protest ential as We Shall Overcome for the
and a strike of hundreds of thousands Civil Rights Movementwas John
of students on more than 700 cam- Lennons Give Peace a Chance,
puses, leading to injuries and in some which was sung by half a million dem-
cases death. onstrators at the Vietnam Moratorium
Day protest in Washington, DC, in
Looking at the photographs of the October 1969.
Kent State massacre, singer-songwrit-
er Neil Young wrote Ohio, recorded At the time Lennon claimed that he
in two days and distributed as quickly. was bored with hearing We Shall
It was an instant reaction to the unrest Overcome all the time, and offered
in the university campuses. Ohio his simple ditty as an alternative. Our
was a message to America to do some- job is to write for the people now,
thing about the deaths, the war, and he said. The song emphasised the fact
the breakup of the country: that the musicians who wrote the an-
Gotta get down to it ti-war music which became a part of
Soldiers are cutting us down political protest were not the part of
Should have been done long ago. the same (Wenner 2000).
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground While white male artistes got most of
How can you run when you know? the attention and fame, it is crucial to
(Neil Young 1970) remember that the anti-war music of
While Ohio did sound like a call to the Vietnam era was much more di-
immediate action and protest, none verse than people now recall. There
of the members of CSNY were tru- were other tempos and temperaments
ly part of the anti-war movement. on display across barriers of ethnicity
George Lipsitz questioned the music and gender, perhaps a love song to a
of the sixties, product of young peo- soldier far away, or a meditation on
ple struggling to establish their own a domestic tragedy when a husband
artistic visions, or was it the creation re turned a hurt and tormented man,
of marketing executives eager to cash as in the case of country singer Ar-
in on demographic trends ? (Lipsitz lene Hardens bitter Congratulations
1994) After all, by 1970, records and (Candaele n.d.).
tapes brought in over $2 billion, close
to 80 percent of the revenue from the African Americans contributed much

of this sometimes forgotten anti-war task: that of uplifting spirits and giv-
music. Martha Reeves and the Vandel- ing hope to people. Anti-war music
las released I Should Be Proud in contributed to a vibrant and liberating
1970, the first anti-war song from the counterculture.
Motown label. It was followed a few
months later by War, recorded first References
by the Temptations (not released as a
single for fear of conservative back- Baldwin, James, 1961, Fifth Avenue Up-
lash) and then rerecorded by Edwin town: A letter from Harlem, in Nobody
Starr. With its simple but memorable Knows My Name: More Notes of a Na-
refrainWar, what is it good for? tive Son, New York: Vintage Books.
Absolutely nothing!the song went
to number one on the Billboard Pop Candaele, Kerry. https://www.gilderleh-
Singles chart. (Candaele n.d.) rman.org/history-by-era/sixties/essays/
protest-music-1960s. n.d.
More tender and soulful was Mar-
vin Gayes plea for peace and love in Gitlin, Todd, 1993,The Sixties: Years of
Whats Going On, where war is Hope, Days of Rage., New York: Bantam.
not the answer, for only love can con-
quer hate. In 1969 or 1970, Gaye Lipsitz, George, 1994, Wholl Stop the
said, I began to re-evaluate my whole Rain? Youth Culture, Rock n Roll, and
concept of what I wanted my music Social Crises, in The Sixties: From Mem-
to say... affected by letters my brother ory to History, ed., David Farber, pp. 157-
was sending me from Vietnam, as well 176, New York: Oxford: University Of
as the social situation here at home. I North Carolina Press.
realised that I...wanted to write songs
that would reach the souls of people. Marvin Gaye, Whats Goin On in 500
I wanted them to take a look at what Greatest Albums of All time. n.d. http://
was happening in the world. www.roolingstone.com/music/lists/500-
Anti-war music of the 1960s gave the marvin-gaye-whats-going-on-19691231.
American people an outlet to express
and spread alternate ideas to repair Mcdonald, Joe, 1967, I-Feel-Im-Gixin-
the damage caused by the civil rights To-Die-Rag, Rag Baby: Songs of Oppo-
movement, the Vietnam War and the sition, .
general social crisis faced by the so-
ciety. Popular music influenced the Neil Young, Crosby, Stills, Nash and
young to believe in the ideas of social Young, 1970, Ohio, single. Atlantic.
revolution and the freedom of expres-
sion. While music did not solve every- Wenner, Jann S., 2000, Lennon Remem-
thing, it accomplished its most crucial bers, London and New York, 2000.


and Popular
Padmini :
The Legend that was Or Perhaps Not

Krishna Shekhawat

The common thread binding myths, inspiration as their counterparts. This

legends and folklore is memory. Pierre resonates in the legends that have circu-
Nora has made an important observa- lated in the Rajputana and beyond. The
tion in this context: hype created around these figures only
reflects the awe that they created or was
Memory is always suspect in the eyes being attempted at creating in the minds
of history. of common people.

The most insightful historical scholar- Stories of great kings and queens have
ships argue that memory is forged and intrigued me since childhood. One such
transmitted deliberately. The question is: has been Rani Padmini who has been
Do literary sources escape these flaws glorified as a perfect model of ideal In-
then? In this sense, as Ramya Sreeni- dian womanhood in the Amar Chitra
vasan says, like other sources, memory Katha most of us have grown up read-
is itself a deeply historical practice. Em- ing. However, it is essential to establish
bedded in the term Rajput is a sense of her as a historical figure first. Therefore,
pride, valour and sacrifice. The pride of my area of research would cover the leg-
a raja does but encompass his queens end of Padmini, as described in Jayasis
pride. Padmavat, and dwell on critically analyz-
ing its sources, variations, authenticity,
If Chundawat, chieftain of Salumbar gender relations and other social impli-
is remembered for the valorous fight cations.
he put up against Aurangzebs army,
so is his wife Hadi Rani who cut her One of the most celebrated figures of
head as memento so that her husband Rajasthan has been Padmini, believed to
doesnt get distracted by missing her. have been the Rajput queen of Mewar in
While Rana Sanga is considered to be the early 14th century. Before diving into
the epitome of sacrifice in Marusthala, the complexities of the legend attribut-
Rani Padmini has been immortalized by ed to her, I would first state the basic
the jawhar she committed. The Rajput story of the Padmavat: Rani Padmini is
queens have been as famous a source for the princess of Singhal. Ratansen is the

where the tendency is to define liter-
ruler of Chittaur who is told about ary traditions in terms of linguistic
the beauty of Padmini by a parrot, Hi- and regional boundaries.
raman. At the mere mention of her,
Ratansen burns in anguish of sepa- The Padmavat was a Sufi mystical
ration from her. He ultimately makes adaptation. The Padmavat and the
her his wife through penance. Mean- likes of it including the Chandayan,
while,Raghav Chetan, a Brahmin in Manjhans Madhumalati and Qutbans
the court of Ratansen is banished for Mirgavati, are heroic romances where
wrongful use of his magical powers. the prince embarks on a dangerous
As revenge, he goes to Alauddin Kh- quest to woo and wed princesses of
ilji to arouse his desires for Padmini. fabled beauty and wealth. However,
Alauddins lust for Padmini manifests it is worth noting that this work came
in a siege on Mewar in 1303. Mean- 250 years later to the event. The 14th
while, Ratansen is engaged in war with century accounts, both the Sultanate
Devpal of Khumbhalner where he and Rajput annals, are silent about
dies. Knowing of their ultimate fate, Padmini. Amir Khusrau gives the ear-
Padmini along with many other wom- liest account of Khiljis conquest but
en save their honour by committing doesnt talk of Padmini. Yet, legends
a jawhar unprecedented in history. on the queen repeatedly did rounds in
Alauddin Khilji wins an empty for- several regions and languages between
tress as his main motive of acquiring 16th and 20th centuries. This suggests
Padmini is defeated. that Padminis presence came to be at-
tached with Delhi sultans conquest of
The first known narrative of the leg- Chittor only later.
end comes from Malik Muhammad
Jayasis Padmavat (1540) in Avadhi. In The narratives of the Rajput chief-
recent times, scholars are in consensus doms came in the late 16th century.
that Padmavat was most likely writ- Unlike Jayasis account, they focused
ten in Persian script. This comes as on the exemplary honour of the Ra-
a fresh perspective because mention jputs in defending their queen and
of characters from the Mahabharata kingdom against Khilji. Within Mewar
and Ramayana argues against such a multiple versions with subtle but dis-
claim (The bow of Rama that built the tinct variations emerged.
bridge across the sea, even that bow
accepted defeat at the hands of her According to Sreenivasan, there is evi-
brows. Even the mighty gandiva(of dence that Jayasi remembered the Kh-
Arjuna) that pierce the eye of the fish ilji conquest on Chittor but the same
accepted defeat, what can I say of cant be ascertained for his literary
other bows. ). This is a major break- successors. Pandit Ramchandra Shuk-
through in the current atmosphere laji is of the view that the first half of

the story is pure imagination but the in terms of his joga(penance) through
second half from the Brahman trai- which he achieves an ecstatic commu-
tor Raghavs arrival in Delhi down to nion with the divine as also seals an
Padminis self-immolation is based on alliance through marriageas was the
historical facts . A.K. Ramanujan puts common practice wins dowry and
forward an interesting argument that returns home with added prestige.
every new text confirms yet alters the This narrative is vital for analysis be-
whole order ever so slightly but not so cause Sufi tropes and lay elite values
slightly. This is justified by the fact that are entwined to such extent, that one
while some communities remember cannot be discerned from the other. A
the legend for Padminis beauty, others normative, masculine ethic is woven
remember it as a folktale of a beautiful around the idea of a threatened queen.
queen and her parrot, Hiraman. This was perhaps to ensure purity of
blood since kinship determined access
Being the work of a Sufi, the Padma- to resources during this time.
vat is an allegory of divine love as ex-
pressed in the following lines: The Padamavat attaches the suffering
of viraha with the protagonist unlike
Tan chitaur man raja kinhaa non-Sufi tales where this emotion is
Hiya singhal budhi padmini kinha attributed to the heroine as was the
case with Shakuntala and Damayanti.
The body is Chittor, the King its mind, The narratives symbolism slides into
the literal and the psychological into
the heart is Sinhala, the wisdom can the physical when the anguished lov-
be seen as Padmavati and Ishq, the ers searing viraha threatens to become
final goal. a pyre itself. It is at this point Shiva
and Parvati are introduced in the nar-
The Padmavat is an illustration of the rative to prevent Ratansen because a
Sufi idea that love, suffering and death fire as this emerging from lovers
are inseparable and only the language viraha-would destroy the world.
of fire can sufficiently express them. However, it is worth noting that no
Jayasis vision of such an imagery of such intervention takes place when
love-ultimate consummation in the Padmavati and Nagmati, Ratansens
incandescence of fire constitutes a second wife immolate themselves
veritable apotheosis rather than de- even though their jawharis hailed as an
nouncement. Interestingly, this and expression of passionate love and vi-
the celebrated episode of mass immo- raha. The implicit bias that the flames
lation show that the Sufi work doubles of womans viraha will not annihilate
as a journey for mystical quest and ma- the world can be seen clearly.The lay
terial advancement. By marrying Pad- norm that women are expected to
mini, Ratansen defines his manhood suffer in silence is very adeptly inter-

woven in the narrative. Thus, Jayasis victory but for laying ones life for
work reinforces the lay norms of gen- motherland. We will conclude with
dered conduct. It sees womens expe- the narratives ending and oft-quoted
rience of viraha as an end in itself and stanza: Chittor became Islam. Aziz
not the route to higher revelation. Ahmed views it a Muslim-authored
work with an anti-Muslim finale. Giv-
We feel that these messages implicit in ing its Sufi perspective, he highlights
the narrative, bring out the deep-seat- that the final annihilation of Chittor
ed ideology ingrained in the society may be seen as its identity with the di-
that a widow in the words of Uma vine through martyrdom. This pun, as
Chakravarti socially dead and thus he interprets, may be the true meaning
committing jawhar, the only way to of Chittor becoming Islam.
preserve ones honour. Dirk Kolff
shows how female immolation was At one level, the defeat of Alauddin
used as a device to assert the status of Khilji may also suggest Jayasis cel-
Rajput clans in 15th and 16th centu- ebration of the power of Sufi love
ries. In this, the Padmavat also plays an over the Sultans military conquests,
important role by neatly appropriating a reaction to the prevailing contest
such Rajput practices in its mystical in authority between sultans and Sufi
frame of reference. masters like Nizamuddin Awliya. And
yet the pun may only be the other way
The entry of a second villain, Devpal round because these Rajputs towards
of Kumbhalner lays the socio-political whom Jayasi seems to be biased, were
scenario clearly infront of us. Jayasis only reconstrued as practicing Sufis by
tone in this context (Devpals advanc- encoding the act of self-immolation
es characterized as: when the frog as the Sufi ideal of fana.
gazed upon the lotus; the bat never
sees the suns face.) suggests that there Thus, the Padmavat, with its manu-
was no distinction made between the script traditions and later adaptations
Muslim emperor of Delhi and a Ra- continues to reflect the spiritual and
jput ruler as enemies of Chittor. This political realms of the 16th century
is suggestive of the rivalry that pre- woven within a Sufi frame of ref-
vailed not just with the Muslim rulers erence. It brings in the political and
but also those of the same caste and patriarchal practices of the local Ra-
thus, in my opinion, justifies why a Ra- jput-Afghan elite who constituted its
jput empire never came up. clientele of patrons for the composi-
tion and circulation of tales of love
We also believe that the valour which between 14th and 17th centuries. Nev-
Rajputs are famous for, was such an ertheless, he does not fail to establish
entrenched ideal that there grew a the superiority of Sufi narrative above
tendency to fight wars not aimed at all of them.

Given the above arguments, it is es- Sons.
sential to state, in my conclusion, that
the Padmini legend does not bear his- Chakravarti, Uma, 2006, Gender, Caste
toricity for those who authenticate a and Labour: Ideological and Material
history based on historical sources. Structure of Widowhood, in Idem, Be-
Interestingly though the contribution yond the Kings and Brahmanas of An-
of Jayasis Padmavat must be taken cient India, Delhi: Tulika, 156-81.
account of, for his literary genius
which has continued to intrigue or as Qanungo, K. R. 1969, Studies in Rajput
K.R. Qanungo would put it, bluff History, Delhi.
the credulous chronicles then and
even now. Sreenivasan Ramya, 2007, The Many
Lives Of A Rajput Queen, Delhi: Perma-
So, feeling bluffed or intrigued? Id nent Black.
let you choose.
Thomas, Catherine Weinberger, 1999,
References Ashes of Immortality: Widow burning
in India, Chicago: University of Chicago
Bakshi S.R. and Gupta R.K., 2008, Rajas- press.
than through the Ages, Delhi: Sarup and

Childrens Literature and Popular Culture:
Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes

Soumya Sahai

Fairy tales and nursery rhymes are an ventions, motifs, characters and plots
indispensable part of our lives. The based to a large extent on the origi-
narratives are part of our collective nal oral traditions. However, the with
memory and hence they seem to be the advent of the print medium the
timeless. While we are familiar with stories were altered increasingly to ad-
the story of Cinderella or Rapunzel, dress a literate audience of aristocrats
we seldom question the origin of and bourgeois. Their original ideol-
these stories. . In this paper I look at ogy and narrative perspectives were
select fairy tales and nursery rhymes severely contained and a transition in
to trace the complex meanings of class emphasis from peasantry to the
metaphors and didactic element pres- upper and middle classes is noticeable.
ent in these narratives.
At the beginning of the 19th centu-
ry, fairytales along with other folktales
Fairytales and nursery rhymes began
were not considered appropriate liter-
as part of an oral tradition whose be-
ature for children. Especially among
ginning is difficult to ascertain. Story-
the middle class, they were viewed
telling has an inherent power in it as
variously as witchcraft, vulgar, and
it enables people to share knowledge
violent. Attitudes towards these tales
and experience in varying social con-
changed with the Grimm brothers
texts. Stories help people to discern
publication of Childrens and house-
what they may regard as real, as possi-
hold tales (1812-1815). The Grimm
ble and as worth doing or things best
brothers were part of the German
avoided. They are born out of our
Romantic Movement and championed
conflicts and experiences and their
folk tales and literary fairy tales. They
magic can be equated to the wish ful-
didnt write these stories themselves,
fillment and utopian projections of
rather collected tales that had been
the people. Hence, we see peasant
handed down from one generation
women marrying princes, evil queens
to the other. Their primary concern
and kings are punished and proletar-
was to protect the classics from being
iats triumph. As they were written,
erased from the public memory in the
they began establishing their own con-

era of industrialisation. Their book, tion. Some appeared for the first time
however, was not meant for children, in written forms though their origins
it was an academic anthology com- are not known. Their publication
piled for adults. However, these tales coincided with the rise of childrens
soon became popular amongst chil- literature in the 19th century. Many
dren leading to a long process of ed- nursery rhymes have variants in other
iting and censoring in which the tales languages. Many of the best-known
lost much of their mysterious sensual rhymes were not meant for children
and erotic contents and were moulded but belonged to a folkloric tradition
to fit in the German patriarchal so- shared by both adults and children.
ciety. This process lasted from 1812- They were used to parody the royal
1864 and during this period several and political events of the day and
versions of these tales were printed, were used as seemingly innocent ve-
and as these tales became more con- hicles to spread subversive messages.
servative, they became more popular Being short and easy to remember,
amongst the parents and children. they could be passed from one gener-
ation to another without any difficulty
The Grimm brothers efforts to popu- and were often used by the common-
larise fairytales as childrens literature ers to comment on the events of the
had been buttressed by the publica- day. A careful analysis of some fairy-
tion of Charles Perraults Histories, tales and nursery rhymes will help us
or Tales of Past Times in 1697 and establish this.
Marie-Catherine Aulnoys Stories of
Fairies. Fairytales had thus become RED RIDING HOOD: The origins
popular amongst adults at the French of the story of the Little Red Riding
court at the end of the 17th century. Hood can be traced to the versions
Through the course of the 19th cen- produced in various European coun-
tury, many authors published fairy- tries before the 17th century. Charles
tales such as Henry Coles The Home Perrault, one of the writers of this sto-
Treasury (1843-1847) which helped ry explained that from this story, one
establish the reputation of fairytales learns that children, especially young
as appropriate childrens literature. lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred,
With the publication of Hans Chris- should not listen to strangers. Folklor-
tian Andersen Tales for Children in ists and cultural anthropologists such
English in 1848, fairytales were victo- as P. Saintyves and Edward Burnett
rious as legitimate childrens fare and Tylor saw Little Red Riding Hood
soon dominated childrens reading list in terms of solar myths and other nat-
in the Victorian period. urally-occurring cycles. Her red hood
could represent the bright sun which
Nursery rhymes are also centu- is ultimately swallowed by the terrible
ries old and part of a long oral tradi- night (the wolf), and the variations in

which she is cut out of the wolf s bel- implications of the story, taking a crit-
ly represents dawn. In this interpreta- ical look at the protagonists portrayal.
tion, there is a connection between the This study examines how Little Red
wolf of this tale and Skll, the wolf Riding Hoods image has changed
in Norse myth that will swallow the over time, rather than asking if she
personified Sun at Ragnark, or Fen- has changed as change is inevitable.
rir. The tale has been interpreted as While Little Red Riding Hoods out-
a puberty rite, stemming from a pre- ward appearance changes (clothing,
historic origin (sometimes an origin landscape) sometimes dramatically,
stemming from a previous matriarchal throughout her written history, her
era).The girl, leaving home, enters a inner personality characteristics with
luminal state and by going through the which we are so familiar, the naivet,
acts of the tale, is transformed into an unwavering politeness, and pleasant
adult woman by the act of coming out demeanour, often remain constant.
of the wolf s belly. The motif of the This serves to define her as the quint-
huntsman cutting open the wolf is in- essential victim.
terpreted as a rebirth; the girl who
foolishly listened to the wolf has been SNOW WHITE: The first known ac-
reborn as a new person. The red hood counts of the Snow White story come
has often been given great importance to us from the Grimm Brothers, who,
in many interpretations, with signifi- during the early years of the 19th cen-
cance from dawn to blood. tury, collected and published a num-
ber of old books.
The story also serves as a metaphor
for sexual awakening and depicts the The different retellings of Snow
rite of passage from puberty into White provide us with glimpses of
womanhood. Little Red Riding Hood women from the middle ages. With
is a classic example of a stereotypical- the rise of the Renaissance and Ref-
ly sexist depiction of the protagonist, ormation, the role of women faced
whose traditional portrayal ranges a strict dichotomy: on one hand, you
from polite and naive, to carnal and had the beauty, purity and ignorance
seductive. The retellings span six de- of Snow White; on the other, you had
cades and correspond with particular the conspiring, vindictive and hateful
intellectual movements to which they nature of the evil stepmother. Women
conform: traditional, modern, and were to be as Snow White: pure, inno-
postmodern. Books which fall into cent and helpless. All of this could, of
the Traditional category only make course, be achieved by her acceptance
superficial changes. The books in the of her new role in society. Without
Postmodern category are retellings such a system, women were sure to
that make more meaningful changes become like the evil stepmother.
to the tale by addressing the political

The issue the queen deals with is within a literary puzzle of suggestive
beauty and the necessity, but also con- images and loosely connected plots.
sequences of it. She is consumed by
beauty, which is a contradiction of RAPUNZEL: Many scholars trace
what is expected of women. They are the origins of this tale to the legend
expected to look perfect at all times of Saint Barbara of the third century
and be refined and beautiful, but if who was locked up in a tower by her
they obsess about it, they are seen father and tortured for her Christian
as crazy or in some cases ugly. How faith. Despite being beheaded she
then are women supposed to make was miraculously healed. Most imag-
sense of what is expected of them? es show her with long flowing blonde
The queen is evil because she wants hair, a characteristic feature of Ra-
to kill Snow White because of jeal- punzel. Giambattista Basiles Petros-
ousy. Though there is no doubt this inella or little parsley (1634) marked
is an evil claim, is it not societys fault the next stage in the development
that she wants to be beautiful and be of Rapunzels story. Living in Ven-
the best? We are reminded time and ice Basile was influenced by the tales
time again that beauty fades, and the brought back by sailors and merchants
queen is wise enough to recognise that from faraway lands. Sixty years later,
her own beauty will too. She is safe so the story appeared in France, told by
long as she is beautiful, as Terri Win- Charlotte- Rose de Caumont de la
dling writes that the queen is a wom- Force as Persinette. Her stories depict
an whose power is derived from her Persinette as engaging in premarital
beauty. The story assumes the ste- sex as a result of which she is ban-
reotypical roles of women dictated by ished by the sorceress. But her spirit
society instead of creating a world of and courage never break and she is
pure fantasy. It presents the point that shown as an assertive and active agent
women are expected to be obedient or of healing and salvation for all those
there will be consequences, and also around her. It was the German author
a point about beauty saying beauty is Friedrich Schulz (1790) who changed
important in order to be the winner of the heroines name to Rapunzel and
the situation. The oppressive ideas of the tale was subsequently retold by the
beauty of female roles influence wom- Grimm brothers, becoming less pow-
en negatively and teach them negative erful and mysterious with each retell-
habits in regards to how they can be ing and subsequent edition.
their own independent person.
BLUEBEARD: Bluebeard, an anom-
Snow White also presents a psychoso- aly when compared to other fairytales,
cial enigma of unsubstantiated child- could never effectively mould itself
hood trauma, personality disorders, into a story appropriate for children.
and a politically repressed society Till date, it retains most of its violence

,horror and gore and this may be why in London in the 18th century. The
its relatively unheard of. The sto- rhyme has to do with one of kittys ad-
ry, however, survives under various mirers. Lucy locket who also worked
names and forms in different cultures. as a barmaid broke off with a man she
Bluebeard and its variants enjoyed had been seeing once he was out of
widespread circulation in Europe and money, brokenhearted the man soon
via trade routes entered Africa, India found love in the arms of kitty fisher.
and Jamaica with Bluebeards beard In those days locket was a euphemism
changing hues accordingly. The story for vagina whereas the pocket in the
seems to have originated in France, poem refers to the boyfriend as he was
where it was first written down by a means of cash, the ribbon is a ref-
Charles Perrault (1697). Many schol- erence to the ribbon prostitutes used
ars believe that the tale was based on to use to tie the money around their
Gilles de Rais, a marshal of France thighs.
who served under Joan of the arc.
Once settled on his estates, he began MARY, MARY QUITE CONTRARY:
killing young boys after he had sod- Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does
omised them but his fame and influ- your garden grow? With silver bells,
ence prevented people from noticing and cockle shells, and pretty maids all
that children were disappearing. The in a row
story thus may have originated among This rhyme is a perfect example, of
the peasantry to warn children to use of nursery rhymes to comment
stay away from the dangerous baron. on political events in a relatively dis-
Other theories argue that the tale of creet manner. The Mary in this poem
bluebeard was based on older stories refers to bloody Mary or Queen Mary,
like Conomor and Tripiphane oth- daughter of Henry VIII and Cather-
ers claim that it was a tale circulated ine of Aragon who is widely known
amongst women to warn them of the for her large-scale persecution of
practical consequences of marriage. Protestants. Her description, as con-
This tale stands out because its vil- trary, comes from her proclamation
lain and hero are one and the same. It that she would not compel any of
highlights fidelity to siblings and fami- her subjects to follow her religion and
ly while also invoking questions about then within a month of her reign re-
marital fidelity. pealed all religious legislation passed
by her predecessor. The garden refers
LUCY LOCKET: Lucy locket lost to a cemetery growing with the bodies
her pocket, kitty fisher found it, not of heretics whereas, silver bells and
a penny was there in it, only a ribbon cockle shells are references to torture
round it instruments. Pretty maids could refer
Both lucky locket and kitty fisher were to the original guillotine known as
real people, prostitutes to be precise, maiden or shortened to maids or an

other torture device known as the iron fairytales lose their teeth and narrative
maiden. edge. Murders, unwanted pregnan-
cies, cannibalistic feasts etc are pho-
The process of change, adaptation toshopped and replaced with meek
and accommodation of fairy tales and princesses and happily ever afters. He
nursery rhymes continues into our criticises Disney on two aspects, ste-
times. In the twentieth century, chil- reotyping of characters and rampant
drens literature is marked by great- sexism, with damsels in distress whil-
er diversity in both, characters and ing away their time rather uselessly till
authors. There is also an increasing their true love rescues them. Scholars
acceptance of multiple cultures and like Armando Maggi agree and believe
ethnicities. The genre is also marked that fairytales have lost their magic
by greater segmentation by age with and have been exhausted.
separate categories for children, ad-
olescents and series books, many Nonetheless, these tales have a life
appealing to the tastes of adults as of their own. The richness of these
well. Media adaptations of popular stories lies in their ability to change.
fairytales as books, films or television
They are different every time we read
series form an important part of this
them and provide different lessons to
tradition. Walt Disney dominates this
different people. A dynamic narrative,
field and has revolutionised the way
they have survived because they have
we look at fairytales with its iconic
adapted themselves to the needs and
films. The fantasies of true love, cas-
desires of their audience. They will
tles, prince charming and fear of evil
stepmothers have been ingrained in teach several generations of children
our minds thanks to Disney. However, to believe that ultimately good tri-
not all scholars are in favour of this umphs over evil and that we all have
commercialization. Jack Zipes believes our happily ever after in the near fu-
that with each new incarnation, the ture.

Hindu Goddesses and Divine Women:
A Victim of Patriarchy?

Harini Shankar

Being a woman in this world is

analysis of the tales of goddesses we
come to see how very cleverly patriar-
tough, and this fact is very aptly por-
chy is hidden behind the all powerful
trayed by way the term woman itself
projection of Hindu goddesses. In
carries different meanings in different
this article, the attempt isnt to trace
contexts (Roy 1999). Does it refer to a
the origins and development of patri-
biological female or a sexual status? Is
archy, for that in itself is intermingled
it defined in terms of class or caste?
with issues, ideas and debates of much
Does it refer explicitly or implicitly to
complexity; but to highlight how the
an upper caste woman or a woman
restrictions on Hindu women, their
who supports heterodox traditions?
subjugated and subordinated status in
These multiple definitions of a wom-
society was given currency in mythol-
an are a mirror to the complexities
ogy and ancient texts, by employing
faced by anyone who wishes to write
metaphors and symbolic anecdotes.
about women. We often fret about
how patriarchal our Indian society is
It seems most natural to inspect the
and how women suffer in a number
issues faced by women with regard
of ways under the dark shadows of
to the conception of love and mar-
ancient laws and customs. There is
riage. Generally a girl choosing a boy
also the ironical situation where In-
is a much more indigestible fact than
dians worship a goddess in a temple
a boy choosing a girl. The following
but dont regard ordinary women with
incidents in mythology highlight the
respect and dignity.
above stated fact-
If we are to compare how powerful
(1) Arjuna eloping with Subhadra with
the Indian goddesses are and how
Krishnas consent was acceptable (Pat-
helpless common women are, we
tanaik 2010, 118). This possibly could
are completely mistaken. However,
be due to the fact that Subhadra was
a comparison of the power of the
equal to Arjuna in status iand caste.
goddess with the helplessness of the
However, what needs to be stressed
common woman is misleading. Hindu
is that Subhadra was unaware of this
goddesses are not free and indepen-
plan of eloping with Arjuna till the
dent in every possible way. On a closer
time for elopement actually came.

Though it is incessantly reiterated that (4) Lastly, the story of the apsara, Ur-
Subhadra was in love with Arjuna, this vashi, having the audacity to desire
episode highlights the disregard for Arjuna, is spoken of in a negative
Subhadras views of her own marriage. tone, as the union of a respectable
This form of marriage, described in man with a non-virgin woman was
the Dharmashastras as Asura Vivah completely contrary to what was de-
was acceptable, because it was with scribed in the ancient texts.
the consent of two respected males.
It is evident in the cases where a wom-
(2) The love story of Radha and an dares to love a man and profess-
Krishna is very popular among all. es publicly, tragic incidents awaited
But what must be noted is that even them in the end as the woman aban-
though both of them are incomplete doned the code of conduct that the
without each other, Radha is not social norms prescribed to her.
Krishnas wife. She was elder to him.
They always met at night, in the out- The next major ordeal faced by an In-
skirts of their village in secrecy (Patta- dian woman is to work and caring for
naik 2006, 134). According to a pop- the household with the same efficien-
ular Tamil lore Radha is never able to cy and dedication simultaneously. It is
marry Krishna because a huge tragedy like, if at all the woman has to work,
befalls the world on their wedding day then she has to excel in both the tasks.
in the form of Pralaya. Clearly, the
marriage of an older woman with a According to the Dharmashastras for
younger man is supposed to be har- a woman, taking care of her fami-
binger of catastrophe. ly and household came first, and she
couldnt shy away from her foremost
(3) Similarly, Shakuntala marrying her duty. However, males were not in any
love, Dushyanta, leads to a chain of way responsible for the household
events that ends up in Dushyanta for- chores, they just had to focus on one
getting Shakuntala and his marriage task- To work and earn well.
to her. A message is conveyed to all
the young women as to what trage- A working woman can be compared to
dy awaits them if they marry against the great Hindu goddess Durga, who
the wishes or without the knowl- is a warrior goddess. She is invoked to
edge of their fathers, reiterated most defeat the indestructible Asuras, when
obstinately through the laws of Manu. all other Devas fail.
Also, we must note that Dushyanta
was a Kshatriya and Shakuntala was a She carries numerous weapons in her
Rishi kanya, this was the case of an multiple hands and rides on a lion
inter-caste marriage in the absence of (originally a tiger). However what
fire and elders (Gandharva Vivah).

most fail to observe while looking at pendent she might be, and irrespective
the independent powerful goddess of the fact that she can any day outdo
is her attire. She is dressed as a bride, all the men, must always know her
in red; She wears bridal jewellery, her limits. She must never transgress the
hair is unbound (Pattanaik 2006, 185- norms of being a good wife, a good
86). Her bridal attire symbolizes her mother and a good daughter--- ever
restrictions. Like a bride she is tied to dependent and ever obliged to serve
her husband and household; there are her male counterparts.
boundaries that she cannot cross. Af-
ter defeating the Asuras, Durga is ex- In this context we see in the depiction
pected to transform into Gauri, who of Kali where her hair is disheveled,
is domesticated and maternal (Patta- symbolizing her wild and raw nature
naik 2006, 198). (Pattanaik 2006, 200); traits complete-
ly unacceptable in a woman under the
Gauri is dressed in green, a colour standards of brahmanical patriarchy
symbolizing fertility, she is depicted and subjugation. More often than not,
as constantly wearing the signs of her in the stories relating to Kali, there is
marriage, she holds no weapons, her always the situation where the anger
hair is bound, and is associated with and fury of Kali leads to destruction
the cow, an all giving creature (Patta- of the entire world, which was only
naik 2006, 1999). Gauri is the ideal put to an end after Shiva lay at her
wife, she nourishes her family, takes feet. For an ideal woman, stepping on
care of her husband. her husband was equal to a thousand
Similarly, a working woman is expect- sins.
ed to become Gauri at home. The
bounding of a womans hair indicates Here the notion of an independent,
her domestic obedient nature. free thinking woman leading to de-
struction and chaos in the established
But if one thinks objectively, then order is well highlighted, hence the
Durga is perhaps the most powerful concept of keeping women in control
deity in the land of gods. She has the by not educating them, by engaging
strength of all the male gods put to- them in household chores rather than
gether, and as a matter of fact, also sending them to work.
possessed the weapons of the most
powerful of their lot. She could eas- Examples of Ahalya, who wavered
ily dictate her terms and might as well from the path of a chaste woman and
dominate over every other god. But hence was cursed to become a stone
that is not true. She voluntarily gives by her husband; Tales of Renuka, who
up her ferocious form and takes up wavered in thought , and whose head
the role of Gauri, for the ideal wom- was chopped off by her son at the or-
an, no matter how powerful and inde- ders of her husband, all in a way

justify women being punished by their ly line, hence there emerged a need to
husbands, if they did not follow their preserve pure bloodline and heritage
Stri-Dharma, and censoring upon and endogamy took its heinous forms.
their sexuality, and attaching morality This is one of the most important rea-
to their carnal desires. sons for restriction on women.
What we as a society should realize is
Similarly we can interpret Sita be- that traditions and norms should be
ing punished, for not listening to changed as per he needs of the time,
Lakshmana and crossing the Laksh- for a rigid boundary always has the
man-Rekha, by being abducted by Ra- tendency to collapse.
Any change is possible only if people
Anecdotes of chaste women and ide- are willing to change their mindset,
al wives of Rishis like Arundhati and which can only happen when their
Anusuya were also widely prevalent, minds are porous to new ideas and
so that women could follow the ideal methods. It is pertinent to question
path set by these women. norms embedded in myths and revisit
We now have an idea as to how all some of the didactic stories. Women
the present norms and restrictions on should themselves realize and respect
women, were widely justified in myth- their own caliber and talents, and only
ological tales of women and goddess- then can they emerge victorious in the
es. struggle with patriarchy that has been
going on for ages.
Interpretations of these stories may
vary among people, but to a large ex-
tent it is agreeable that the goddesses REFERENCES
too were not free from the chains of
patriarchy. To cite an example, Parvati Roy, Kumkum, 1999, Women in Early In-
was cursed to be born on earth as a dian Societies, Delhi:Manohar publishers
fisherwoman by Shiva as she yawned and distributors.
when he was having a knowledgeable
discussion with her! Pattanaik, Devdutt, 2006, Myth=Mithya:
A Handbook of Indian Mythology, Del-
What we must try to understand is hi: Penguin.
why these restrictions on women? The
answer is simple. Women were a very Pattanaik, Devdutt, 2010, Jaya: An illus-
important part of the society for they trated Retelling of Mahabharata, Delhi:
were the means of extension of fami Penguin.

Satyajit Rays Charulata :
Reading the Rhetoric

Vanya Lochan

A film has to convey its message by ratives are alive with the textures of
images and relatively few words; it has nature, the rhythms of native Bengali
little tolerance for complexity or irony life, and the nuances of human ges-
or tergiversations. ture and behaviour.

Louis Begley, Shipwreck (2003)
The best part about the film is that it
Charulata(The Lonely Wife) (1964)
can be studied using various lenses and
is a feature film by Satyajit Ray based
I believe that each lens would be able
on Nastanirh(The Broken Nest),
to capture a different aspect that the
a novella by Nobel Laureate Rabin-
film represents. This essay attempts to
dranath Tagore. Charulata , often
study the ways in which the film cap-
rated the directors finest film is also
tures the historical aspect of the late
the one that, when pressed, he would
19th century colonial Bengal. Since
name as his personal favourite: Its
an objective analysis of the historical
the one with the fewest flaws. In an
rhetoric of the film would be incom-
interview with Cineaste magazine, Sa-
plete without analysing the various
tyajit Ray praised Charulata, saying,
nuances employed in bringing out and
[Its] a film that I would make the
shaping the emotional and personal
same way if I had to do it again. The
dimension of the characters and situ-
film affords a dazzling view of Rays
ations, the essay also seeks to identify
mastery of the medium and gives
the techniques used to weave the film
vital proof of his ability to explore
together such as symbolism. The film
universal themes without compromis-
also depicts several sociological con-
ing his uniquely Bengali sensibilities.
cepts such as the relationship between
Charulata was the filmmakers second
a bhabhi or the brothers wife and the
adaptation of a Rabindranath Tagore
devar or the husbands brother, the
work (after Teen Kanya in 1961) and,
emergence of an educated Bhadra-
indeed, one senses a close affinity be-
mahila and successfully draws a line
tween Rays cinema and Tagores liter-
of differentiation between a Prachi-
ature. Like his literary idol, Rays nar-

na (old-fashioned woman) and a No-
bina(modern woman), thus drawing IDENTIFYING THE SOAP-
upon the new patriarchy that was STONE
emerging during this period.
Satyajit Ray directed and wrote the
Historically speaking, Charulata de- screenplay of Charulata, thereby re-
picts events taking place in the nine- fashioning the details from Tagores
teenth-century colonial Bengal when novel, Nastanirh. For example, Tag-
the Bengalicultural Renaissance was ores Amal was a demanding man.
at its apogee. Charulata tells the story He pesters Charulata to the point of
of Bhupatinath or simply Bhupati, a seeming insensitive to her feelings
political journalist and publisher, his and situation. Charulatas response to
young wife, Charu, his cousin, Amal, him, as Tagore words it, seems almost
who is almost the same age as Cha- needy: That someone should ask her
ru and Charus brother and brothers for somethingin the whole world
wife, Mandakini, set in the 19th cen- this is the only person who asks of
tury Bengalibhadralok(elite class) her and she cannot bear to leave his
family which is being ruffled by the desires unfulfilled. Ray, on the other
winds of liberty and individuality.The hand, adds an endearing tenderness to
late 19th century in Bengal was when Amal and the gifts he receives from
several changes were occurring and Charulata are given to him freely. It
were being concretised and each as- is widely believed that the story was
pect of the era has been suitably rep- inspired by Tagores relationship with
resented by the characters of the sto- his sister-in-law, Kadambari Devi,
ry. The New Spirit of Young Bengal who committed suicide in 1884 for
thirsty for a wave of change in the reasons that have never been fully ex-
political sphere of colonised India is plained. Kadambari, like Charulata,
represented by Bhupati, the creative was beautiful, intelligent, and a gifted
upsurge represented by the rise and writer, and towards the end of his life,
growing popularity of literary icons Tagore admitted that the hundreds of
like Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay haunting portraits of women that he
can be found in Charu and Amal. painted in his later years were inspired
More importantly, this era also stood by memories of her. The story is
for a flux in the familial structure be- situated in the late 19th century con-
cause of the ideological changes seen text an age of flux in terms of
in men and consequently women. societal changes, political changes and
These changes and the resultant con- the emergence of revolutionary and
flict have been weaved very intricately literary idols like Garibaldi, Mazzini
by means of various symbolic tools, and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.
visuals, sound and accompanying Further, it can be noted that the

revolutionary changes in Europe such litical and social flux as well as fragile
as the French Revolution, the 1848 inter-personal relationships. The tone
Revolutions not only had an influence is candid, symbolic, impassioned, di-
on the political ideals of educated rect and upstanding.
upper-class Indians but also deeply
affected the literature and rhetoric of CONCEPTS
those times. For example, Romanti-
cism was one concept which could be The concept of Bhadralok as op-
seen in these terms as Charu and Amal posed to the Chottolok is of great
write about the nature, the various el- significance in the social history of
ements of childhood such as boats , colonial Bengal. The word Bhadralok
mela (fair), the village, music (depic- in Bangla stands for the respectable,
tion of Baul and Bhathiyali), birds (as the cultured and educated i.e. the
Charu names one of her discarded es- middle and upper classes, whereas in
says The Lament of the Cuckoo) etc. contrast, the chhotolok refers to the
small people or the poorer, lower
Regarding the audience, while sev- classes. The word Bhadramahila re-
eral authors like Andrew Robinson fers to the women of the bhadralok.
clearly identify it as a film with an in- The concept of bhadralok played an
nately European setting supposed to important role in the 19th century
be for Western audience. The setting cultural renaissance in Bengal and the
is a western-style mansion, the decor social reform movements there. What
is Victorian, the dialogue strewn with should be further mentioned is the
references to western literature and bifurcation that came into the picture
politics. However, Ray says that, be- in relation to the social and political
neath the veneer of familiarity the film spheres, and in that sense, there came
is chock-a-block with details to which up a dichotomy of the world into two
the Western viewer has no access. domains- ghar and bahir, the home
Snatches of song, literary allusions, and the world. The dichotomy of
domestic details, an entire scene where ghar and bahir did not, however, im-
Charu and her beloved Amal talk in ply a clear chasm between what was
alliterations (thereby setting a hope- European and material and what was
less task for the subtitler) all give the inner, distinctive and spiritually su-
film a density missed by the western perior. Charu Gupta argues that the
viewer in her preoccupation with plot, domestic domain was the inner core
character, the moral and philosophical of national culture, a private and sep-
aspects of the story, and the apparent arate sphere where it was possible for
meaning of the images. The purpose the Hindu male to impose his power
and subject are definitely the depiction and control. With the emergence of
of a story trying to place every detail several reformist movements aimed at
in an intricately carved setting of po- undoing various oppressive structures

of patriarchy such as Sati and efforts the verbal exchange between Amal
at enabling women to attain liberty and Charu in instances like Charu ad-
by means of providing education and dressing Amal as Diggaj Babu (the
equal opportunities, the dynamics accomplished one) etc. Gupta men-
created by the confrontation between tions that in urban areas, education
this ingrained dichotomy and an at- and reformist rhetoric increased the
tempt at renewal of Bengali social opportunities for women to move
structure resulted in the formation around in the household. They may
of a new kind of patriarchy some- have found in extra-marital relation-
thing where attempts to construct ships a degree of solace and escape
a new woman who was apparently from everyday drudgery and lone-
liberated were being made but at the liness. More importantly, bhabhi
same time, the innate nature of con- was someone the devar could easi-
trol over the female sexuality could ly flirt with as she found in him the
not be overpowered. Ace film-maker, only person she could freely talk to.
Satyajit Rays Charulata can also be Charu develops a deep romantic re-
understood in a similar light. lationship with him. Her constantly
touching, holding and hugging him
A very important aspect the film and sobbing and getting angry and
deals with is the fragility of the re- possessive for him can be seen in this
lationship between the devar and the light.
bhabhi . Like so much that Tagore
did, Nastanirh attracted adverse crit-
icism from Bengalis at the time. The PLACING THE RHETORIC
story gave the foundations of family
life a shake, which many people re- Deeply inspired by Mill and Ben-
sented. The main reason for Bengali thams ideas of freedom and equal-
unwillingness to see the Charu-Amal ity, Bhupati, portrayed by Shailen
relationship for what it is, is peculiar Mukherjee, who is insistent upon
to Bengal. propagating the same by means of
Since the bou or the woman of the his newspaper The Sentinel which
house finds in her devar the only per- runs on his feudal money and is des-
son she is not in an unequal power tined to be in dire straits. Bhupatis
relationship, there is an element of enterprise keeps him busy all day,
light-hearted exchange and fun be- leaving his young, childless (conve-
tween the two and as Gupta argues, niently, though) good wife Charu to
an exhilarated sense of joy and a herself. He loves Charu and he might
certain emotional dependence. This make an ideal husband were it not
was different from the restrained for his newspaper. Bhupati is an arm-
relationship the woman shared with chair revolutionary, who rails against
the husband. It is clearly depicted in Englands colonial yoke, and,

as the newspapers editor, he has no hints of Charus inner reality: the iron
qualms about venting his rhetoric in bars on the window and the birdcage
his columns poised in the the corridor, for exam-
ple, suggest all is not well.
In spite of being neglected, she is ami- Under the credits, weve seen Cha-
able and fills up her time reading liter- ru embroidering a wreathed B on a
ature and looking at the outside world handkerchief as a gift for her hus-
from her sequestered ghar through band. When she presents it to him,
her lorgnettes. It is also interesting to Bhupati is delighted but asks, When
note how Ray portrays the home in a do you find the time, Charu? Evi-
Bhadralok vis--vis the spirit of patri- dently, its never occurred to him that
archy that binds it. The bhadramahila she might feel herself at a loose end.
is provided with the Western equip- But now, becoming vaguely aware of
ment- lorgnettes and literacy to look Charus discontent and fearing she
at the outside world while definitely may be lonely, he invites her neer-do-
staying within her part of the world, well brother Umapada and his wife,
her ghar.The visual elegance and flu- Mandakini, to stay, offering Umapada
idity that Ray achieves in Charulata employment as manager of the Senti-
are immediately evident in the long, nels finances. Manda, later described
all-but-wordless sequence that fol- as Prachina by Amal proves poor
lows the credits and shows us Charu, company for her sister-in-law who is a
trapped in the stuffy, brocaded cage Nobina, an educated, modern wom-
of her house, trying to amuse herself. an with a deep understanding and a
(At this period, no respectable mid- literary bent.
dle-class Bengali wife could venture
out into the city alone.) Having called Suddenly, the light in the room dark-
to the servant to take Bhupati his tea, ens and the winds pick up, threatening
she leafs through a book lying on the the homes blas tranquility. The storm
bed, discards it, selects another from heralds the arrival of Amal (Soumitra
the bookshelfthen, hearing noises Chatterjee), Charus brother-in-law, an
outside in the street flits birdlike from idealist-poet with whom she will fall
window to window, watching through in love. True to Tagore, Ray marshals
her lorgnettes the humdrum of street natures tantrums to foreshadow or
life below. When Bhupati wanders punctuate turning points in his char-
past, barely a couple of feet away but acters lives, and this is a particularly
too engrossed in a book to notice her, poignant moment because no one,
she turns her glasses on him as well least of all the happy-go-lucky Amal
just another strange specimen from nor the dutiful Charu, expect the emo-
the intriguing, unattainable outside tional storms to come. Both seem to
world. Rays dcor may be diverting- find a common point on literature as
ly lovely, but he makes sure to include they discuss Bankim babus (Bankim-

dra Chattopadhyaya) Anandamatha velops between the two. By means of
and music as Amal sings Tagores Ami these characters, the story discusses
Chini Go Chini Tomare, O go Bidesh- social implications trudging alongside
ini to Charu. personal lives and relationships.

He spends his days chatting with the The scene played out in the garden,
women, Charu and Manda, as they is significant not only for what it re-
bemusedly humor and flirt with him. veals of Charus heart, but as a mi-
The bearded-and-gartered Bhupa- crocosm of Rays artistry. Pivoting
ti, however, frowns at Amals literary the scene on Charu, he deliberately,
dreams, at art and literature in general, even playfully, follows her observa-
believing them to be irrelevant distrac- tions, tracing the slow emergence of
tions from the real issues. Politics is feelings she knows are forbidden. As
different, he says to Amal, Politics is she arcs back and forth on the swing,
life. In any case, concerned about his Ray switches from intimate close-ups
wifes loneliness, he enlists the reluc- of Charu singing her signature tune
tant Amal into keeping her company to her point of view, showing the re-
and to find out if Charu truly has the posed Amal flitting in and out of her
creative talent that she fancies through view. The effect is of a chipping away,
her books. In reality, Bhupati is just as of Charu realising that the walls that
much a dreamer as Amal. He toils day have heretofore kept her feelings at
after day in his newspaper office, hold- bay are being intruded upon and ex-
ing aloft the torch of patriotism and pressed visually by Amals jutting in
the collective spirit of Young Ben- and out of her point of view. This
gal, but he never suspects the villain becomes devastatingly clear moments
close at hand for Umapada (Shyamal laterwith Ray again using the optical
Ghoshal), Charus brother and Man- point-of-view tacticwhen she spies
das husband, has been slowly siphon- a mother and child through her lor-
ing money from the newspaper. The gnettes and then turns her gaze to a
fate that Bhupati suffers in the course preoccupied Amal. Ray cuts to a pro-
of the film is arguably far worse than tracted close-up of Charu as the tides
Charus, owing to his nave civic and of regretover her childless life, her
marital trust. yearning for romancesweep across
her face followed by a wave of sudden
Amal inspires Charu to write and Cha- panic as her love for Amal dawns on
ru gradually attains the self-imposed her. Its a quintessential Ray moment
right to be the first one to read all of of slow, patient observation leading to
Amals work and openly displays feel- an emotional wallop of a climax. It is
ings of envy when Manda seems to now when Amal also realises that Cha-
be taking over this right. Slowly and ru might be Going too far as he tells
almost unknowingly a sexual love de- Charu when she asks him to push the

swing she is sitting on. When her sto- face with this realisation and the in-
ry is published in a literary magazine, tense emotional power of his wifes
much to Amals awe and amazement, grief. The music, rising in crescendo,
the bond between her and Amal is strangled. The figures of Charu and
strengthens into mutual admiration; Bhupati stand frozen across a series of
that is, until Amal begins to feel un- still frames. She is reaching her hand
comfortable. Blind to all but his own out to him, pleadingly. He, tentatively,
ideals, Bhupati is left to weather the appears to want to take it. But, in spite
fate of his business and his marriage. of the lamp a servant is bringing, the
corridorthe home, at largelooks
An important development in the haunted now by the spectre of marital
film can be studied in the light of the discord. The appearance of the title,
growing professional partnership be- The Broken Nest, in Charulatas
tween Bhupati and Charu when Charu final shot underscores this. Its Tag-
offers to run a newspaper along with ores original title for the story and,
him and Bhupathi gladly accepts it, by placing it at the films end, Ray
clearly depicting the changing status shrewdly endows it with a portentous
of the New Woman. quality. Thus, though the entire drama
takes place inside the upper- middle
The pattern of relationships within class Bhadralok and on the surface
the traditional joint family and the is about the suppressed romance and
complex confrontation is depicted characters relationships and preoccu-
very craftily by Ray by means of the pations, it is essentially also about a
spatial variation among Charu, Bhu- classist and sexist society and a wom-
pati and Amal and the various rivals to ans or a bhadramahilas desires and
the attention of Bhupati and Charu- dissent in Bengal of the colonial era.
the newspaper for Charu and Amal The desire and longing of Charu is
for Bhupati. The concepts of bound- treated as a fire that engulfs all of the
ary and decorum, which are the three main characters, but smoulders
pillars of the home-world dichotomy Charu the most intensely. Unlike Tag-
is very well played with in the parts ore, the maestro, Ray suspends the
wherein, when on recognising the na- climax in an animation, leaving the au-
ture of Charus love for himself, Amal dience to discern the emotional con-
consents to marriage and goes abroad flagration.
thus staying within the decorum, but
in close contrast to this, when break- Thus, one can place the film in a back-
ing violently from this constraint, ground of historical flux depicted
Charu collapses on bed on getting very effectively by means of natural,
Amals letter, making almost no effort physical as well as a few subtle sym-
to hide this facet from her husband bols. More importantly, it is to be not-
who for the first time comes face to ed that while all characters appear

naive and positive, there are dramatic Robinson, Andrew, 1989, The Lonely
sequences and moments of weakness Wife (Charulata) 1964, in Satyajit Ray:
that tend to bring a change in the re- The Inner Eye, Berkeley: U of California.
lationships and ideals they share. Ray,
by means of several subtle themes Sarkar, Tanika, 2010, Hindu Wife, Hindu
and objects in the background, suc- Nation: Gender, Religion and the Prehis-
cessfully carves out the scenes in a way tory of Indian Nationalism, London: C.
such that each of them is soaked in a Hurst.
particular emotional hue . He makes
them flow in a smooth succession http://www.manushi-india.org/pdfs_is-
unravelling the multiple and diverse sues/PDF%20files%2045/26.%20
aspects of human behaviour vis-a-vis The%20Bengali%20Bhadramahila.pdf
situations generated by various histor-
ically contemporary developments. http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/
Gupta, Charu. 2002, Mapping the Do- posts/2872-char ulata-calm-with-
mestic Domain, in Sexuality, Obscenity, out-fire-within
Community: Women, Muslims, and the
Hindu Public in Colonial India, New York: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/re-
Palgrave, 2002. view/charulata


Language, Labels
and History
Freed From Slavery,
Chained By Labels

Kajri Raymahasay

There is a glaring juxtaposition in scholars seems extremely irrational

modern writing in the way in which, since slavery is seen as a violation of
on one side ancient Roman slaves are an individuals basic human rights and
treated as victims and shown with therefore the granting of freedom, ir-
sympathy because they had fallen respective of the reasons behind it or
prey to the terrible wrong of the in- the numbers should be looked at in
stitution of slavery whereas, on the a positive light. The abuse of man-
other side, the ex-slaves (who had umission (the formal way in which a
either bought their way into free- slave was freed)that scholars have re-
dom or been granted the same) were ferred to in the context of ancient
treated with a decidedly disapproving Roman slaves is a phrase that gives
attitude. However recent scholarship priority to social background over ba-
on Roman freedmen is different from sic human rights.
that of the people writing in the early
20th century. They do not echo their
predecessors lamentations on the in- Therefore, the prejudices of the an-
filtration of the original Italian stock cient scholars and records certainly
with the entry of foreigners who orig- creep into the works of the modern
inated mostly from the east. How- writers and the way they treat Roman
ever, even relatively recent scholars freedmen (which includes women).
have pointed out that these ex-slaves The history of Rome written by Di-
onysius of Halicarnassus, who was a
were climbing the social ladder sole-
Roman elite writing in the first centu-
ly by making more and more money.
ry BC, regret the way in which slaves
Even their approach is derogatory to
used criminal means and sold their
a great extent since they too term the
body as prostitutes to buy their free-
freedmen as foreigners whose social
dom from their owners. Gaius Petro-
status could never equal that of a
nius Arbiter, who was a companion
free-born Roman citizen. They also
of Emperor Nero, had written a novel
disapprove how the masters would
called The Satyricon in which one of
free slaves without having adequate
the characters was a freedman called
reasons to do so. This approach of

Trimalchio. The libertus is depicted distances. In this process they were
in the most ridiculous manner in the bought and sold several times. The
novel where he throws a profligate only time their nationality was even
dinner party and not only serves ridic- recalled was when the sellers would
ulously expensive food but also shares advertise them at the slave markets.
his plans of building a tomb like that When men bought slaves, each man
of a baker called Eurysaces. This chose a name from one source or
tomb of Eurysaces has survived from another whatever suited him well.
ancient Rome and is referred to as a Thus, the trip itself severed captives
30-feet high visual joke by scholars. It from the original markers of their
elaborately showcases the instruments identity- family, community, language,
essential for a baker. Clearly, the baker and name. Even after manumission
took great pride in his profession and, the freed slaves, unlike free born chil-
considering the splendor of the tomb, dren, could not inherit their fathers
profited well from it. The modern culture. If captured in a foreign war,
historians treat Trimalchio as a model they could not practice their cultures
for studying Roman freedmen and the values in the Roman society without
bakers grave only confirms the ste- facing the stigma of alienation. The
reotype. In the first place, the Roman lack of a socially acknowledged father
elites foresaw the political dangers in dishonored the ex-slave and left him
the rising financial position of the open to mockery. Manumission was
Roman freedman. Secondly, after a seen as a favourBeneficiumof
survey conducted by historians on the the master for which the slave should
tombs of the ordinary citizens of an- be ever obliged. This was not just so-
cient Rome it had been concluded that cially but also legally imposed through
not only was a great majority of this Obsequium. The ex-slave was severely
population of slave origin but most punished for any aggression against
of the graves were also not as elab- the patron whereas there was limited
orate as the bakers tomb. The hum- redress against the abuses of the pa-
ble epitaphs of the graves challenge tron. This shows how the freedom of
the notion that most of the freedmen freed slaves was unfair and conditional
were like Petroniuss depiction of Tri- to several restrictions.
There were stringent rules surround-
The way in which a person became ing the process of manumission
a slave from a free man needs to be placed by the State. The age for grant-
elaborated upon in order to under- ing manumission was set at 20 while
stand their position after manumis- that of being granted the same was
sion. In most cases it was the defeated set at 30. The number of slaves that
lot in a Roman conquest. They were could be granted freedom by death-
transported by sea or foot across vast bed manumission was restricted.

However, the epitaphs that have been had a huge impact on the way it must
studied by historians show that sev- have been looked at by ordinary Ro-
eral people below the age of 30 were mans (Varros phrase instrumentum-
granted freedom even if not formally vocale which literally means speaking
manumitted. Also, since a magistrate tool was inclusive of free labour even
was required for the process of manu- though in modern world history it is
mission several people might not have misunderstood to just denote slaves).
been able to track one down This kind of flexibility in the institu-
tion of slavery made it much more en-
Junian Latin was a category of people during than anywhere else in history.
who had been granted freedom but This grant of freedom to slaves was
not manumitted (the act was not for- only letting them climb one step up
malized) because of which they could the social ladder of Rome. They were
not become Roman citizens. Even only one step above the slaves and still
though the slave owners were merciful below the freeborn citizens and the la-
towards the slaves while granting free- bel of them being libertines which
dom the Roman Emperors and jurists in our language means over-indulgent
did not feel the same way. Being re- and extravagant, was constructed to
duced to the position of a slave was keep them there.
ruled as a punishment for a free wom-
an who slept with a slave. The image References
of the freed slaves created by Ancient
scholars was due to resentment and in- Anderson, Perry, 1966, Passages from An-
security. The act of manumission was tiquity to Feudalism, London: Verso.
not just criticized but also curbed by
the State. During the time of Agustus, Hopkins, Keith, 1981, Conquerors and
Claudius and even Marcus Aurellius Slaves, Cambridge: Cambridge University
several laws restricted the social and Press.
political mobility of the freed slaves.
After all there was a reason why they Joshel, Sandra R., 2010, Slavery in the Ro-
were enslaved in the first place and it man World, Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-
cannot just be need for cheap labour. versity Press.
They were the defeated ones and their
existence embodied the superiority of Review of Henrik Mouritsen, The Freed-
Romans. Giving them political and so- man in the Roman World (Cambridge:
cial power was unthinkable by the elite Cambridge University Press, 2011)http://
of Rome. Why then, we might ask, did bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-02-15.
manumission exist in the first place? html
The act of manumission implies how
slavery was defined in the Roman so-
ciety. The temporary nature of slavery

A Literary History of
Urdu Language

Zayana Nasir

Urdu hai jiska naam, hum hi jaante The formation of Urdu began with
hain Dagh, Ghaznavi forces settling in Lahore in
1027. At what time they gave up Per-
saare jahan mein dhoom humari zaban sian and took up Urdu is difficult to
ki hai discern . By the twelfth century Urdu
was probably the commonly used lan-
Urdu, one of the most beautiful lan- guage for conversation. Therefore, we
guages, which not many know, devel- must distinguish two stages: (i) begin-
oped in South Asia. Like many other ning in 1027, Lahore-Urdu, consisting
North Indian languages, Urdu belongs of old Punjabi overlaid by Persian; (ii)
to the Indo-Aryan language family. beginning in 1193, Lahore-Urdu over-
Much has been written on the origin laid by Khari Boli (not very different
of Urdu. It is generally believed that from old Punjabi), further influenced
the language of Muslim army sta- by Persian, the finally the Delhi Urdu.
tioned in Delhi from 1193 onwards
known as urdu-e-mualla (the exalted The earliest literary texts in the Urdu
army) got mingled with Khari Boli, language were produced in the Dec-
the language of the inhabitants which can region. As the Mughal emperors
led to the formation of Urdu. Urdu in the North India patronized Persian,
is always said to have arisen in Delhi, the Deccan Sultanates at Golkunda
however, it should be noted that Per- and Bijapur provided patronage to
sian-speaking soldiers entered Punjab Dakkhani Urdu. The Sufi saints and
and began to live there nearly 200 poets produced many texts in Dak-
years before the first Sultan sat on the khani Urdu. The earliest extant text is
throne of Delhi. What is believed to a verse narrative, Kadam Rao Padam
have happened in Delhi, would actual- Rao by Nizami (1421-1434). Sabras,
ly have taken place in Lahore centuries an allegorical tale by Wajhi (d.1635) is
earlier. These troops stayed in Pun- considered to be the first prose clas-
jab and in the course of time began sic. The major Dakkhani poets include
to speak the language of the coun- Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah (d.1626),
try, modifying their mother tongue. Gawwasi (d.1631), Nusrati (d.1674),

Ibn-e-Nishati (d.1655) and Wali Au- to shorter prose tales, such as Bagh-
rangabadi (d. 1707). o-Bahar (1802) and Fasana-e-Ajaib
(1831) by Rajab Ali Beg Suroor. The
The 18th and 19th centuries are con- beginning of the novel, however, was
sidered to be the golden period of made by Nazir Ahmad (d.1912), Ratan
the classical Urdu poetry, when lan- Nath Sarshar (d.1902) and Mohd.
guage reached its highest degree of Hadi Ruswa (d.1931). The 20th cen-
sophistication and excellence. The tury witnessed proliferation of Urdu
great masters include Mir Taqi Mir novels in the writings of Premchand
(d.1810), Sauda (d.1781), Khwaja Mir (d.1936), whose Godan is considered
Dard (d.1784), Insha (d.1817), Musha- to be a classic. The other modern clas-
fi (d.1824), Nasikh (d.1838), Aatish sics include short fiction by Saadat
(d.1847), Momin (d.1852), Zauq Hasan Manto (d.1955), and novels like
(d.1854) and Ghalib (d.1869). These Aag ka Darya (1960) by Qurrat-ul-ain
poets penned large number of ghazals Hyder, Udas Naslen (1963) by Abdulla
(lyrics). With regards to the masnavi Husain, Ek Chaadar Maili Si (1962) by
genre the prominent poets included Rajinder Singh Bedi, and Basti (1979)
Mir Hasan (d.1786), Daya Shankar by Intizar Husain.
Nasim (d.1844) and Nawab Mirza
Shauq (d.1871). Nazir Akbarabadi of The term Urdu as a nomenclature for
Agra (d.1830) is considered the folk a language is of recent origin, prob-
poet par excellence of Urdu. In mar- ably used for the first time around
siya (elegy) writing no one surpassed 1780. Early names for the language
Anis (d.1874) and Dabir (d.1875) of now called Urdu were Hindavi, Hindi,
Lucknow. Ghalib who was a contem- Dihlavi, Gujri, Dakkhani and Rekhta,
porary of the last Mughal ruler, Baha- more or less in that order, though until
dur Shah Zafar, is considered to be the about middle of the nineteenth centu-
last of the classicals as well as the first ry Dakkhani continued to be the name
of the moderns. for the language used in Deccan. The
English, seem to have found a set of
Though prose had made its begin- names of their own liking. Edward
ning in the 18th century, Ghalibs Terry, a companion to Thomas Roe in
letters set the standard for modern Jahangirs court in his A Voyage to
prose, followed by Sir Syed Ahmad East India describes the language as
Khan (d.1898), Mohd. Husain Azad Indostan, saying that it was a power-
(d.1910), Hali (d.1914) and Shibli ful language which could say much in
(d.1914). During the 19th century, few words. In North India both Hindi
the cyclic tales running into thou- and Rekhta were popular as the names
sands of pages and several volumes for the same language sometime be-
like Tilism-e-Hoshruba and Dastan- fore the eighteenth century. The spo-
e-Amir Hamza (1881-1917) gave way ken language was almost always

referred to as Hindi. Hindavi was in Dr. Gilchrists time, who being com-
use until about the end of eighteenth missioned to make a grammar of the
century. Mushafi states in his first di- common speech of Upper India made
van compiled around 1785: two grammars... The evil consequence
is that instead of having a school
Mushafi farsi ko taq pe rakh, ab hai grammar of the vernacular as such...
ashar-e-Hindavi ka rivaaj we have two diverse and discrepant
(oh Mushafi, put away Persian now, class books, one for the Mohammed-
Hindavi verse is the mode of the an and Kayastha boys and the other
day) for the Brahmins and Banias.

The divide between Urdu and Hindi The conflation of religious and lin-
occurred under the colonial impact guistic identity, particularly in the case
with the growing cultural conscious- of Urdu speakers, has had a significant
ness as part of the processes of po- impact, as the debate is now framed
litical modernization. A beginning, in within the context of communalism
fact, was affected at the Fort William and bigotry. Opposing sidesthe
College, Calcutta (established 1800), Hindi-wallahs vs. the Urdu-wallahs
under John Gilchrist (1789-1841). have appropriated public discourse to
There is enough evidence to show restrict the discussion to a religio-na-
that the British rulers tied down the tionalist perspective alone, with the re-
question of the varieties of Hinda- sult that the debate is confined to the
vi, first to the cultural heritage and historical origins of Urdu, its role in
social hierarchy, and later to religion defining Muslim culture, the national
and political power play. Thus, it was movement, and even the creation of
at the Fort William College that the Pakistan. The term Hindustani,
two distinct trends in literary prose proposed by Gandhi, signifies a com-
writing came to the fore. On the one mitment towards openness in nam-
hand, we had Mir Ammans Bagh-o- ing the vehicle of expression used by
Bahar (1800-1802) and Hyder Bakhsh speakers who may well have differing
Hyderis Aaraish-e-Mehfil (1802-1804) political and cultural ascriptions, and
as representatives of the Urdu prose, thus reflects a terminological compro-
and, on the other hand, Lallu Lals miseit is a language of Hindustan
Premsagar and Sadal Mishras Nasike- with an overlapping linguistic con-
topakhyan as representatives of the tinuum common to both Hindi and
Hindi prose. Raja Shiva Prasad in his Urdu. However, this compromise was
book of grammar, in the year 1875, rendered irrelevant in Independent
reiterated that Hindi and Urdu have India, in which the communalization
no difference on the level of the ver- of public discourse has rendered it
nacular. He wrote: The absurdity be- unusable, as this discourse immediate-
gan with the Maulvis and Pundits of ly cast it to be a Trojan horse of the

other side. of the major reasons for the decline
of Urdu is that it has not been pro-
The statistics regarding the religious moted in the education sector. Not
composition of those who do con- every school offers Urdu as the sec-
sider Urdu to be the language of ond language and those who do offer
Muslims shows that the association Urdu are chronically short on teach-
of Urdu with Indian Muslims is a ers. As a result, the language that had
construction of non-Muslims. Even been the symbol of power and pres-
though the vast majorities of all faiths tige across the vastness of South Asia
spoke and wrote it until the British left now finds itself limited to madrassas,
India. You may find the journals of mosques, and sometimes ironically, in
your forefathers written in Urdu. One Bollywood.

Freshers 16
Tarikh 16
eftefteftef e
Tarikh 16
The Many Meanings of Heritage
Prof. Romila Thapar in conversation with
Prof. Kumkum Roy

Photo courtesy : Jasmine Chahal